Video #17 | January 4, 2018
In this video I’m going to answer a question that I been asked again-and-again by many of my friends, and acquaintances, who don’t live in Bangkok; ‘Is Bangkok prostitution legal?’
This video will be broken down into 3 sections:
– The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act .
– The Thai sex industry aimed at tourists is hardly even the tip of the iceberg!
– ‘Dok Kaew’.
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Alrighty then! Welcome to the seventeenth video of Bangkok Unmasked! The YouTube channel that helps you get the most out of your visit to Bangkok city! If you’re new here, please consider subscribing! In this video I’m going to answer a question that I been asked again-and-again by many of my friends, and acquaintances, who don’t live in Bangkok; ‘Is Bangkok prostitution legal?‘
Let’s get started!
So is prostitution in Bangkok legal? Despite what you may read on the internet, the short answer is a resounding ‘no’! The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act  is the core legal framework prohibiting prostitution. Under the act, a definition of ‘prostitution’ is provided:
Sexual intercourse, or any other act, or the commission of any other act in order to gratify the sexual desire of another person in a promiscuous manner in return for money or any other benefit, irrespective of whether the person who accepts the act and the person who commits the act are of the same sex or not.
It must be highlighted that a clear definition of the phrase ‘in a promiscuous manner’ is not provided.
Under the act, people who solicit sex ‘in an open and shameless manner’, or who are ‘causing nuisance to the public’ are subject to a fine of no more than 1,000 baht. The part that’s not so well known is that people ‘mingling’ in a ‘prostitution establishment’ [that’s the customers, or ‘johns’] face a jail term of up to one month and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht. It should be noted though that the term ‘prostitution establishment’ is not clearly defined, although it may be broadly interpreted to include any place where prostitution takes place, especially in regard to cases involving child prostitution.
The act imposes heavier penalties against owners of prostitution businesses and establishments: A jail term of three to fifteen years, or longer in the case of underaged or forced sex workers. The criminal code also stipulates penalties for procuring or using money earned from prostitution.
The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act was written with a particular focus upon child prostitution and trafficking. Section 8 penalizes customers who engage in sexual intercourse with sex workers under the age of 15 years with a prison term of two to six years, and a fine of up to 120,000 baht. For sex workers between the ages of 15 and 18 years, the prison term is one to three years, and the fine is up to 60,000 baht.
After 18 years of living in Bangkok, there’s something that I think needs to be said to all the Western ‘Social Justice Warriors’ who come over and make a fuss about prostitution in Bangkok, and Thailand. The Thai sex industry aimed at tourists is hardly even the tip of the iceberg! [I’m referring to places like; Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Patpong, Walking Street in Pattaya, Soi Bangla in Phuket etc.]
A lot of women, and men, in Thailand sell sexual services for money. Siamese 50 satang brothels were popular in the early half of the 20th century, while the extremely popular ‘ab ob nuad’ [known in English language as ‘soapy massage’] has been around since the 1940s – this is a massage, part of which is generally conducted in a large bath or jacuzzi, with a full service ‘happy ending’. Only over the last few years has the full-body massage [with no penetration] become extremely popular, with new shops opening all over the country. There’s also now what is referred to as the business of ‘sidelines’, which is young girls, supposedly of a more pure status, selling themselves online. In a report by the Kinsey Institute, “90% of the [Thai] male participants had had sex with a prostitute and 74% had lost their virginity with a female sex worker.” It’s no secret…but Thai men tend to be discreet about the matter. While prostitution has effectively been illegal in Thailand since 1960, it’s estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year in revenue, a significant part of the country’s GDP, according to black market research company Havocscope.
In 2004, Dr. Nitet Tinnakul, while working at Chulalongkorn University, said that the sex industry in Thailand involved 2.8 million people: 2 million women; 20,000 adult males, and 800,000 minors under the age of 18. Dr. Nitet explained that this number includes those indirectly involved in the industry, including cleaners at establishments, accountants, and even corrupt policemen receiving kickbacks from bars.
One final comment. Thai women have historically been used as chattel. ‘Dok Kaew’, the practice of selling off a daughter at a young age to a male buyer – although not available until she came of age – was practiced in Thailand until the ’90s. Modern prostitution, while often condemned by Western ‘Social Justice Warriors’, is arguably a less worse outcome than what befell many unfortunate Thai women in the past.
Anyway…That’s it for this video. I hope that it answers the question; ‘Is Bangkok prostitution legal?’ Expect a new video shortly. It should be posted in about a week, or so.
For all you techies out there, this video was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and edited using HitFilm Express.
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Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you next week. Goodbye.
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