Sex in grey areas: sting operations horrify Thai sex workers

Go go girls dancing in Pattaya

Go go girls dancing in Pattaya. Photo: Youtube.

Though no Thai government has ever conducted a formal survey, in 2014 UNAIDS estimated that some 123,530 sex workers operate in Thailand, with sex industry contributing to 10 per cent of the revenue that the country generates from tourists. Another study in 2003 estimated that Thailand’s sex industry generates an annual US$4.3 billion dollars.

While sex work is evidently a pillar of the country’s economy and touches the lives of a great number of people, sex work remains outlawed in Thailand. This contradiction drives sex workers into precarity: they are excluded from government welfare and have no legal recourse if exploited by law enforcers or clients.

In this investigative report, Prachatai spoke with sex workers, government officials and NGO representatives to find out how sex workers navigate their grey status under the law. How do they maintain dignity in a society that attributes little value to their work and lives?

Full story:

Kornkritch Somjittranukit
Prachatai. Translated into English by Catherine Yen.

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