Why is there so many prostitutes in Bangkok?

April 23, 2019 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and one of the most visited cities in the world. A colorful city with wild nightlife, we ask why is there so many prostitutes in Bangkok. We’re written a short list below with some of our thoughts on this subject.

1.       Poor wages

As a developing country, the minimum wage in Thailand is relatively low at around 300 THB per day at the time of writing. Of course, Thai people are able to earn much larger salaries if they have been to university and are skilled in a certain field. Many of the women that turn to prostitution already have children to support from previous marriages. Often in Thai culture the daughter of the family is expected to support her parents and children with money, these family obligations can add to a lady’s financial problems. If you’ve got an uneducated Thai lady, money earned through working at a bar would likely pay more than an unskilled job at a factory, for example. Prostitution undoubtedly provides substantial incomes to some young women that have few other marketable skills. The financial rewards of sex work can prove tempting for many women.

2.       Demand for prostitution

Many of the regular visitors to Thailand pay money into the Thai sex industry and fuel its demand. Not all tourists visiting Thailand are coming for the night life; many are visiting for the breath taking beaches and for Thailand’s unique foods… However it can’t be denied that men of all ages visiting Thailand do engage with the sex industry whilst here. Often these men might go on to form relationships with bar girls or other women met during their time here. Some of these men might build huge houses in their partner’s village back in Isaan or buy expensive vehicles. Women living in rural Thai villages might see these trappings of wealth and feel encouraged to follow a similar path. With hoards of foreign sex tourists incessantly contributing to the seedy nighttime economy, demand fuels the supply for this part of the Thai economy.

3.       Some women enjoy the lifestyle

Prostitution is completely illegal in Thailand (as of 2019), however it goes on everywhere and is regarded as an open secret. Estimates for the amount of prostitutes in Thailand vary hugely (from 800,000 to over 2 million people) and it’s very difficult to generalize motives for this amount of people. We can say that some of the sex workers are likely being pushed into their occupations by economic conditions or motivated by poverty. However, some women do enjoy their jobs. Some ladies get a kick out of drinking alcohol every night or sliding up and down a pole in an agogo bar… There’s the potential for them to have big paydays meeting with foreign customers, and it might be more enjoyable than other unskilled minimum wage work in factory production lines or stacking shelves at the local supermarket. 

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