Monday, February 26, 2007

Thailand: Life of an Unwilling Sex Worker

"I think some foreign men think it's okay to pay for sex here in Thailand, as they think the girls actually want to do this. But these men don't understand that most of us have no choice ." -Pim, former Bangkok sex worker

BANGKOK, THAILAND -- Bangkok is a notorious destination for sex tourism. But the lives of many of the city's sex workers are full of danger, disease and the urgent need to send money home.

Pim, who recently left her job in a go-go bar, has a typical story.

"I grew up in the countryside in Phetchabun, northern Thailand. My parents were farmers and I helped them in the fields. We were poor but we always had enough to get by.

When I was about 15, my family fell apart. My father always drank a lot, but it became worse and worse, and he started becoming violent. So my mother, sister and I moved out.

I wanted to study to become a nurse, but when my parents split up I had to leave school and find work as a day labourer, harvesting crops for local farmers. I didn't like it much, and it only paid 100 baht ($3) a day.

At about that time a good friend moved to Bangkok, and when she came back to visit she told me she was earning a lot of money there as a waitress.

There was gossip in the village that she was doing something other than waitressing, as she was sending 10,000 baht ($300) home a month, but she always denied it.

She asked me to come with her, but at the time I was still 16 and too scared. A few years later, though - when I had given birth to my daughter, and my husband and I had separated - I changed my mind.

I left the baby in Phetchabun with my mother, and told her I needed to earn some money in Bangkok. But I didn't tell her what I was doing - I still haven't. She'd be so ashamed.

'Can I do this?'

When my friend took me to a bar in Nana Plaza for the first time, I was really shocked. I'd never been to a place like that before, and at the beginning I didn't even know what the dancers were doing.

When I finally realised, I couldn't take it and I walked out of the bar. I kept thinking 'Can I really do this?'

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT News.BBC.co.uk


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