Women Sex Workers

In Thailand, there is a flourishing sex trade that attracts foreigners and locals alike. The industry in Thailand experienced a boom during the Vietnam War, when the Thai government played a role in providing American GIs with “rest and recreation.”

Though the sex trade still plays a significant role in Thailand’s economy, sex work is illegal. This deprives sex workers of the rights available to other non-sexual labourers. The criminalizing of sex work leads to the abuse of human rights and the exploitation of women that are part of this industry. Sex workers receive some of the most extreme forms of degradation and violence by virtue of the social, political and economic structures that devalue their work, individuality and contributions.

It is a central part of Thai culture that women take care of their parents and family. Consequently, women living on the fringes of society as well as poor communities are sometimes left with few options. In this situation, more and more women are incorporated into work in the sex industry, frequently in situations of abuse and violence aggravated by the non-recognition of the work and dignity of women in prostitution. In Thailand, many of these women are from Burma and other ethnic minorities and are already faced with limited rights.  Young men are also slowly growing in numbers of those involved in sex work.  We work with local organizations set up specifically for male sex workers in Chiang Mai.

Because the sex trade is not legally recognized, the campaigns of many organizations that seek to provide safeguards for sex workers, HIV education and sexual health awareness are undermined.  Human trafficking for females, males and juveniles is always an issue in this region of the world.  Geography, poverty and other social factors play a large role in this flourishing issue.  For more information regarding placements in the area, please contact us.

While CCT does not currently support any programs working with sex workers, we do have a Women's Empowerment Program.  Additionally, through our Art Relief International placement, we work with a local organization striving towards creating a safe space for young male sex workers in Chiang Mai.  This organization is unique in its mission and also provide lodging options and a work placement program.  For more information, please contact us.

Or, read about Cultural Canvas Thailand's other focus issues: