Vice Squad
Friday, November 28, 2003
Prostitution in Thailand

Discussions to legalize prostitution seem to be taking place on
a global scale. Thailand is home to such a debate, which might
come as a surprise to those who assumed that the sex trade
already was legal in Thailand. (The Thai debate was mentioned
in Vice Squad.) An article from the Voice of America
explains the current situation: "An estimated 200,000 women
and men work in the multi-billion dollar sex trade that accounts
for three percent of Thailand's gross national product. The sex
trade is illegal, but is tolerated as a transaction between
consenting adults."

The arguments in Thailand hit upon many themes that permeate
Vice Squad: tax revenues, harm reduction, vice tourism.

According to the VOA article, prostitutes themselves are split on
the issue: "Sex workers who have been interviewed as part of
the debate hold differing opinions. Some support legalization
because it would allow them better benefits and protection.

Most, however, say they oppose the registration of sex workers
that would come with legalization, because it would stigmatize
them forever. And, they say, they are only working in the sex
trade until they can find better jobs. "

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