Thailand: Sex Tourism, Exploited Women

THAILAND & SEX TOURISM
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The vast economic disparities between Thai locals and Thailand’s tourists have long enabled affluent foreigners to request massages with “happy ending specials” or “rent a girlfriend/boyfriend” for a holiday.  Now, the global economic crisis has spawned a more twisted form of entertainment.  Unlike brothels or strip clubs, “ping pong shows” do not lure clients through promises of sexual arousal, but promises of sexual perversion and sexual torture.  One older woman with a scar across her belly from a c-section confides after her freak show performance, “I don’t like being here because I feel dirty.” She adds, “I left my village when my factory closed.”

Nobody knows exactly when Ping-Pong Shows began and Thai women were reduced to circus animals, but these shows are increasingly raunchy and dangerous as tourists’ threshold for shock increases.  “Thailand: The Purchase of Intimacy” exposes how the economic crisis has changed the nature of sex tourism in Thailand.  This is a story where the messy intersection of class, race and sexuality are taken to their disturbing, but logical, extremes.

USEFUL EXTERNAL LINKS

“Prostitution and Civil Rights,” by Catharine A. MacKinnon. Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, 1993, Volume 1: 13-31.

“The Purchase of Intimacy,” by Viviana A. Zelizer. Princeton University Press, 2007.

“Violence Against Women: Global Scope and Magnitude,” by C. Watts and C. Zimmerman. The Lancet, Volume 359, Issue 9313, Pages 1232-1237.

“Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand,” Human Rights Watch. January 30, 1994.

“A Political Economy of Asian Sex Tourism,” by David Leheny. Science Direct, September 1994.

“Prostitution in Thailand,” by Wathinee Boonchalaksi and Philip Guest. A report prepared for the research project, The Sex Sector, Prostitution and Development in Southeast Asia (1994).

Copyright © 2009 Journalist Deena Guzder
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