Sue Yoon TSEA: Period 4 Mr. Sheridan Legalizing Prostitution in Thailand “I am proud of myself to have a job that brings enough income to raise two daughtersand to take care of a paralyzed mother” said Bo a sex worker in Thailand (Sricharatchanya).She is just one of many people in Thailand who can only earn a decent wage by working inthe sex industry which is a major reason why many people think prostitution should belegalized. Thailand is a country that is well-known throughout the world as a touristdestination for its open ‘Sex Tourism’ market. However, technically the practice is illegal.On November 27, 2003 Thai government had a debate whether or not to allow prostitutionto be legal. People have different opinions about whether prostitution should be legalized(“Thailand Debates…”). People in Thailand have been debating this topic up to the present.Since many sex workers are unable to support themselves and their families many peopleargue that Thailand should legalize prostitution (Sricharatchanya). However, many peoplecounter that prostitution is immoral and therefore should not be legalized under anycircumstance. If the government legalizes prostitution, then the sex workers can gain manybenefits which are otherwise not available to them (Kallayanavisut & Phetdee). Nonetheless,the opponents state that the social problems that are deep-rooted in the sex business willremain. Another advantage of legalization would be that the entire Thai society wouldbenefit from taxes collected from the sex workers’ wages (“Thailand Mulls…”). Althoughprostitution may bring immoral and social problems; prostitution should be legalized inThailand due to freedom of choice, economic and social benefits. Opponents of legalizing prostitution in Thailand insist that prostitution would bringimmoral problems. They feel it is an unacceptable way for a human being to make a living.
They claim that is degrading to the workers and unfit for society in the 21 century.Numerous Thai people are against legalization because it is immoral. Also people think itwill cause more people to enter the business. Further, it may hurt Thailand’s worldwideimage (“Thailand Debates…”). For instance, Thailand as a nation is growing rapidly andthey would like to become financially prosperous through building a strong economy not byencouraging sex tourism. Thanavadee Thajeen, who is the director of the Friends of WomenFoundation, said that registration system could be problematic due to the stigmatization itbrings to the sex workers. People around them try to avoid them even their family andfriends (Kallayanavisut & Phetdee). Thus, by legalizing prostitution the Thai governmentwould be labeling all the sex workers for all the public to recognize them. Female rightsproponents are anti-legalization because it makes it easier to take advantage of women(“Thailand Debates…”). Their point is that if it becomes legal, far more people will takepart of the business and that should not be encouraged. Therefore, the counter proponentshave many reasons why they believe that legalization of prostitution should not be granted. It is true that legalizing prostitution in Thailand might bring immoral problemshowever; people must have freedom of choice. The proponents believe that in the 21stcentury people, who live in a democratic society, have the right to make their own decisionsabout what jobs they work. Prostitution is sometimes called the world’s oldest trade becauseit has existed as a profession since the beginning of civilization. Therefore, they supportlegalizing the business in Thailand. There are many sex workers, such as Bo, who isinterviewed by Bangkok Post, feels proud of her because she takes care of her paralyzedmother and two daughters (Sricharatchanya). Because of the lack of sexual education inThailand, many teen girls become pregnant and are cast out of their home. They have noother alternative than to work in the sex business to support their family. Some say that it isonly part-time until find better job (“Thailand Debates…”). However the truth is that there
are precious few jobs for people who dropped out of high school that will support a motherwith two children. The problem is that the Thai government does not make a proper effortto provide support and training for people like Bo. The CATW (Coalition AgainstTrafficking in Woman) says reasons that girls become a prostitute are they are poor, havelittle education, histories of sexual abuse, economic factors, and other such pressures(“Legalization of…”). They feel that there are no alternatives for such women and thereforethey should make prostitution legal in Thailand. Critics of legalizing prostitution argue that it would bring social problems to Thailandsociety if the Thai government legalizes prostitution. They think that prostitution hascreated new problem which disgrace Thailand’s reputation in the international community.They also think that legalizing prostitution will not get rid of many of these problems. Forinstance, Thailand has one of the highest rates of AIDS/HIV in Asia. This is mostly due tothe large amount of sex workers in the country (“Legalization of…”). They feel that ifThailand was not such a huge sex tourism destination then there would not be such aproblem with sexually transmitted diseases. Another point that they make is that prostitutesare treated unfairly in all society and this would not change with legalization. For instance,sometimes, they do not get paid for their job. They only get two days off a month whilemost of other jobs get four days off (Sricharatchanya). Additionally, legalizing prostitutionwould encourage many underage sex workers to enter the business and Thai people do notwant to see this type of problem for the younger generation (“Legalization of…”). It mightalso have an adverse affect on future employment prospects (Kallayanavisut & Phetdee). Ifprostitution was legalized, employers could check the prospect work records and wouldlikely not hire a worker who was a former prostitute. So, these many social problems cannotbe cured simply by making prostitution legal. Despite the fact that prostitution may bring some social problems to Thailand, the
truth of the matter is that legalization of prostitution creates more economic benefits to thecountry. If the business was legal, employment records would be kept and sex workerswould be registered properly. As a result, they would be forced to pay taxes just like allother members of society. This would be beneficial for the entire Thai society becauseapproximately 200,000 people work in the Thai sex business and this business makes up 3%of the country’s GNP (“Thailand Debates…”). That adds up to a lot of money in tax incomewhich could be used to improve public transportation, roadways, sewage treatment, andreduce environmental abuses. Thus, legalization would assist the government in collectingtax money from the workers (Kallayanavisut & Phetdee). According to the Thai governmentthere are estimates that 4.3 billion dollars a year from prostitution could be collected toimprove the economy (“Thailand Mulls…”). In essence, legalizing prostitution wouldprovide more jobs for Thai people because people would be less hesitant to work in theindustry if it was legal. The result of legalization would be an improvement to the Thaieconomy by recognizing jobs in the sex industry which already exist and channeling a largesum of tax dollars to the government for the benefit of society. The Thai government claims that legalizing prostitution brings many social benefits tothe prostitutes themselves. According to the prostitutes, the most important thing that theyrequire is actually social benefits. One worker named Noi says simply she is working tomake a living, but they really need the insurance and other benefits. The legalization ofprostitution would also give them recourse in the case that the police tries to arrest them orthe customers refuse to pay (“Thailand Mulls…”). When the prostitution is legalized, notonly the country but also the prostitutes will take advantages among those advantages,social benefit would help them to have a better life in this society. For example, the directorof Friends of Women Foundation, Thanavadee Thajeen agrees that legalization wouldprovide the sex workers with such benefits as social welfare and medical benefits, and that
the zoning would help ensure that the locations were not interfering with lives of everydaycitizens (Kallayanavisut & Phetdee). Also this would provide the 200,000 sex workerssocial services, medical care and protection from mistreatment (“Thailand Mulls…”). Thus,due to the result of the legalization of prostitution, social benefits would help the prostitutesand the community. Prostitution should be legalized in Thailand because people have freedom of choiceand it would bring many benefits such as social, economy to the sex workers and thecommunity at large. The government is not “seriously committed to equipping women withenough skills and knowledge to get them out of the sex trade,” so they might as welllegalize it so that the uneducated and unskilled members of society will have some kind oflegal occupation to support themselves (Sricharatchanya). The workers suggest Thailandshould provide better job and education (“Thailand Debates…”). Also, Thanavadee urgedagencies to open and organize public forums to find out just how the prostitutes and generalpublic feel about legalization. She also added that it really did not matter whether or not itwas legalized because she believed that the government should make social services andmedical care available to the workers regardless (Kallayanavisut & Phetdee). Surely, thelegalization of prostitution would help the entire society and the government should bringup the solution to prevent illegal prostitution and to protect the sex workers.