PATTAYA – On Tuesday, Pattaya City officials, local police units and administrative units of Chon Buri held a press conference on the new policy, Pattaya Happy Zone, which has been immediately implemented with the main purpose of keeping popular areas of Pattaya under control and crime-free.
The Happy Zone is being enforced in the infamous Walking Street in order to control all illegal activities to make sure that the holiday experience in Pattaya is hassle-free for everyone.
Pol Col Apichai Krobpetch, the Pattaya police superintendent, told Spectrum that Pattaya is not a hub for the sex trade. He was upset about the British media’s stories, insisting they were fabricated.
British newspapers The Sun, Mirror and the Daily Star recently ran articles describing Pattaya as “the world’s sex capital” and as a “modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah”, sparking anger among government officials, especially PM Prayut, who vowed to crack down on illegal businesses and prostitution in Pattaya, viewing them as a major embarrassment for Thailand.
“There is no such thing as prostitution in Pattaya,” says Col Apichai. “Where did they get the figure of 27,000 sex workers in Pattaya? Anyone can make up this information.
“We are working very hard to keep these issues under control. We patrol every night to make sure that there are no sex workers on the streets. We make sure that all the bars follow the law and we keep our eyes on every entertainment venue and beer bar.
“Thai ladies having sex with foreigners is their personal issue. If they like each other, I don’t see anything wrong with what they do behind closed doors.
“As the police chief in charge of this area, I can guarantee that Pattaya is still a safe and beautiful place to visit.”
While Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration has furiously vowed to crack down on prostitution and clean up the sleazy image of Pattaya, local NGOs see this as an opportunity for society to accept the truth and solve problems that have been ignored for decades.
Social worker Surang Janyam, the director of Service Workers IN Group Foundation, suggests we should stop fooling ourselves that prostitution does not exist in Thailand and start thinking about ways to include sex workers as part of society and as human beings with dignity.
“We can’t close our eyes and pretend that there are no sex workers in Thailand. The estimated number published in the Daily Mirror is totally inaccurate — 27,000 sex workers in Pattaya is way too low. We have a lot more sex workers than that. However, the actual number is not the real issue,” Ms Surang says.
“We have to think what we can do to improve their lives and well-being. Cracking down on prostitution and arresting sex workers won’t solve the problem as they will end up having no job and no money. Meanwhile, the real issue is not them selling themselves for money. The real issue is that the government doesn’t do anything to improve the dire economic situation that forces many people into this seedy business.
“Forget about legalising prostitution. How about decriminalising it altogether and bringing sex workers under the labour law? That way they can at least get some social welfare and get the same treatment each human deserves.”
Chantawipa Apisuk, director of the Empower Foundation who has been working on the issue for more than 30 years, says there have been many attempts to solve the problem but none has been successful.
She suggests that instead of cracking down and banning the sex trade, the government should reach out to sex workers and ask them what they want. Then the two sides can meet halfway in order to keep everything under control.
While prostitution remains a never-ending issue, Ms Chantawipa worries that the legalisation or decriminalisation of prostitution may not be happen in her lifetime because there is a bigger issue behind it.
“Prostitution in Thailand is all about bribery. Owners of each venue must bribe the police to keep their business going. If prostitution becomes legal, how else will the cops make money? Don’t forget that a big part of our income also stems from this type of business,” says Ms Chantawipa.
“The police only crack down when they have to compile human trafficking reports. With the way our country is run, I doubt this issue will ever be solved.”
Ning fully agrees with the legalisation of prostitution but her main concern is that sex workers will be labelled and stigmatised further.
“Legally registering as a sex worker means they also accept their status selling sex for living. Thais have a negative attitude towards this type of work even though many people earn a living this way,” says Ning.
“I have many friends still in the sex trade. They are abused, they get injured and some have died from getting beaten up. We are too afraid to file a report with the police since what we do is not legal. We should be protected under the same law no matter what we do.”
By Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai – Read the Full Article – No Sex Please We’re Thai – Click Here