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Bangkok's dark side: sex tourism in the city of angels

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Author: Janina14. October 20153 Comments

Bangkok really blew me away in July, and in a completely positive sense. But there was one thing that kept my hair standing on end. It's about something that is constantly confronted not only in Bangkok but in all of Thailand, and which almost everyone associates with this beautiful country: We are talking about sex tourism.

Under no circumstances do I want to make a general statement on the subject of prostitution now. I am aware that sex for money can be found anywhere in the world, and especially wherever there are many tourists. What is going on in Bangkok is a completely different house number. While I read up on various topics (getting around, sights, restaurants, etc.) online before the trip, the topic of prostitution was already omnipresent. When I have specific questions about a travel destination, I usually just google suitable keywords and then enjoy reading through various forums. At times during my research on Bangkok I had the feeling that for the majority of Bangkok travelers the only topics worth discussing were where the cheapest and best prostitutes in the city were. Of course, this presentation is exaggerated, but this matter of course, with which it was publicly discussed, was absurd to me.

On our first evening in Bangkok, reality hit me like a slap in the face. We were driving on Silom Road, and there we turned into a brightly lit side street. From a distance we saw a large group of young girls. At first I thought innocently of a hen party or something like that. As I got closer, I realized that the group seemed somehow too big for that. In addition, the girls sat and stood in several rows on the side of the road. When I realized what these girls were doing, I suddenly felt sick. At least 60 girls were lined up there in front of a shop. They sat there in rows of chairs like a school class, and they didn't look much older than schoolgirls, apart from the high heels and the tight clothes. Some girls stood left and right, doing little teasing dances, and addressing European-looking men. The pimps walked up and down in front of and next to the girls, occasionally repositioning some of the young women, giving instructions and pointing to potential customers.

From then on, sex tourism was ubiquitous for me. In every restaurant, at every bar and on every sidewalk I saw older, European-looking men, occasionally also Japanese, accompanied by very young girls, ladyboys or even occasionally young men. I couldn't help but ask myself for each and every one of these couples: is the tourist paying him or her for it? The answer was probably, in most cases, yes. One morning we stood in the elevator in our hotel. A young Thai and a middle-aged man got on. They came from one of the floors where the rooms were. She constantly charmed him, snuggled up against him. He had his sunglasses on while driving. He was uncomfortable because he knew we knew what was going on. I and my husband felt embarrassed to see them together and to know that he was paying them. The woman was younger than me, maybe in her early twenties. If she was uncomfortable too, she didn't show it. But I would have loved to know what was on her mind.

I was shocked by the way this sex tourism is taken for granted in Bangkok. I am appalled that men are taking advantage of the currency advantage to get cheap sex in Thailand. The most terrible thing for me is still the thought of how young the prostituting women and men were. I couldn't tell if most of them were of legal age. Probably not the suitors either. Did the prostitute show you an ID? Questionable. For many, that's exactly the kick: sex with a very, very young girl (or boy). Men fly to Thailand to buy physical affection for a ridiculous amount compared to their income. The whole thing is called "sex tourism" and is more or less publicly operated. The thought disgusts me.

It is not the very concept of prostitution that I condemn. It is the concept of sex tourism that is so openly and shamelessly practiced in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. So open that you can get all information and tips on travel forums on the Internet. So open that you can choose your girl for the next few hours just like at the meat counter. Which is the freshest, youngest, and looks the most appetizing? This concept is alien to me through and through.

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