Money girls, money boys Sex

Money girls, money boys

Sex sells, everywhere. But Bangkok’s sex trade is certainly unique in its audacity, its boldness. It seems you can’t walk more than a few minutes in any direction before hawkers peddling their wares accost you. “Young girl, very young girl, only 500 baht.” “Many young boys, they do whatever you want, one thousand baht.”

Many of these young people stand at street corners where they flag down the tourists. Others work in the go-go clubs where they stand on the stage, a numbered badge affixed to their scant clothing; club managers walk from customer to customer asking if they’d like to take one of the dancers “upstairs.” (These places no longer offer live sex shows, which the current prudish prime minister halted a few years ago. And yes, I have visited a couple of these places myself, but not on this trip.) Wherever you go, there seem to be young people for sale. There are numerous books for sale about Bangkok’s sex trafficking and the cruelties some of these prostitutes are subject to.

A friend of mine here tells me that the sex trade is ultimately a good thing. Many of these sex workers come from impoverished families in remote villages, and their families depend on the money they earn for their survival. This is a difficult argument, and I get a headache thinking about it. The humiliation these young people must endure, the threat of disease, the basic wrongness of using teenagers (which many of them are) for sex…. It’s hard to justify that.

My friend tells me, “They have a choice. They can work in my factory for 200 baht a day, or they can work for a few years as whores and earn 2000 baht a day. So can you blame them for doing this?” (For reference, 200 baht is less than five US dollars.)

Just one more of the world’s many moral/ethical dilemmas. It’s not going away any time soon, especially since it’s a major draw for the country’s all-important tourism business. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Right now I really don’t have an answer.

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June 15, 2004 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

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