Is Thailand Really The Sex Capital Of The World?

Remember that look of disgust on your friend’s face when you mentioned that you were going to Thailand on a trip? For most, Thailand is synonymous with sex. But what is the reality?

In his book titled, ‘Sex Tourism In Thailand’, Van Kerkwijk writes, “Many foreigners visit Thailand in search of sex. While long-distance tourism was long enjoyed by members of more privileged social classes, even the lower economical classes of Japan, Malaysia, Europe, America, and Australia can now afford to travel over long distances. This relatively new breed of tourist is more likely to be of lower socioeconomic and educational status and less likely to use condoms when having sex. An estimated 30,000 sex workers are active in Bangkok, of whom 7000/10,000 are females who work specifically in the tourism sector. 1/2-1/3 of the 600 commercial sex establishments in the city are visited by foreigners. Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, and Chiangmai are also well-frequented by sex tourists. Overall, a large, diverse, inexpensive, and accessible commercial sex market exists in Thailand. One may meet sex workers quasi-ubiquitously and be assured to find someone capable of meeting one’s sexual needs. With these attributes, Thailand strongly attracts tourists in search of sex.”

Did you drop your chin while reading those facts? Wait, a little before you die of shock.

Next time when you are sitting idle and surfing on the internet, search this term, ‘things to do in Thailand’. No where in these results will you find the suggestion, ‘have sex’. While Thailand has become infamous for sex-tourism to due to certain people who have opted to indulge in that, the country is not devoid of any other kind of tourism. In fact, Thailand is a beautiful place with ruins, palaces, adventure activities and an opportunity to connect yourself to Buddhism.

Which country in the world does not have brothels and prostitutes? Only because the statistics of one country are hyped, doesn’t mean that we start associating it with nothing other than sex.

Take India for example. In spite of prostitution being illegal in the country there are dozens of red light areas like Sonagachi, Kamathipura, Meeraganj, Shivdaspur, Budhwar Peth etc. In 2007 alone, there were 3 million sex workers in India – as per a report released by the Ministry Of Women and Child Development. Going by the simple mathematic formula of geometric progression population, imagine how many will be in 2017! Do we call India as the sex capital of the world?

Last year a minister in Thailand vowed to clamp down prostitution in the country. There are many people there who want the sex-tourism industry gone and there are many who are surviving because of it.  Prostitution is not completely illegal in Thailand, but it is strictly regulated with prohibitions on doing it in public and other laws pertaining to public nuisance.

The tourism revenue in Thailand accounts for 19-20% of the total GDP, as per 2014’s report. As per,, ‘A political party leader in Thailand and former massage parlor owner stated that the prostitution industry in Thailand is earns over $6.4 Billion (200 Billion Thai Baht) a year in revenue. The amount generated by the sex trade in Thailand is equal to roughly 10 percent of the country’s GDP.’

The figures might not be exact but it does give us an idea of what the revenue is. While Thailand maybe hyped as the sex capital of the world, in reality it might be just another tourist destination that has ‘red light areas.’

Heer Khant
Heer Khant

Traveller | Writer | Photographer | Maverick | Social Worker | Lawyer | A freedom-loving woman for whom words are like wings to her soul. She believes in aliens, hates boundaries and lives like the first human on Earth.

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