This is the story of some of the sex workers in Thailand. Their names are changed, and the pictures do not show the actual girls.
Yaya is from Lampang in northern Thailand. Her parents are farmers, and she has three siblings. Yaya dropped early out of school and started to sell vegetables from the family’s farm at the local market.
Yaya was 19 when her father became seriously sick. The municipal hospital did not have the expertise to treat him, and they could not afford treatment at a private hospital. Yaya decided to travel to Bangkok and search for work. A friend introduced her to a small soapy parlour, and Yaya was hired.
Almost all of the money Yaya earned did she sent home. Her father got the treatment he needed and made a full recovery. Yaya’s money also helped her parents to modernize the farm and give her siblings an education. After six years in the capital could did she return home; Yaya’s family is now self sufficient thanks to the income from their farm.
Kiwi is a girl in her mid twenties. She is from a small village in Udon Thani district in north east Thailand. A friend of Kiwi invited her to come to Koh Samui, telling her that she will earn lots of money. Kiwi started to work in a massage salon in Chaweng, offering everything from traditional Thai massage to relaxing aromatic oil massage. The employees are paid 80 baht for one hour massage.
Thai massage is hard work, but most customers are looking for other services. Once they are alone in the massage room does Kiwi give her offers. She can earn 500 baht for a hand job and up to 1,500 baht for “full service”. And she doesn’t have to share the money with others.
Kiwi saves most of the money. In the future is she planning to build herself a house in her village.
Maew is an elegant, young girl from a small town in Ubon Ratchathani in Isan (north east Thailand). Her nickname means cat in Thai. Maew failed the exams at high school and saw no future in staying in her home town. Two of her friends work in a go-go bar in Soi Cowboy in Bangkok and invited her to come.
Maew works six hours per night and earns 500 baht per day plus 80 baht for every lady’s drink she sells. This alone is up to three times more than she would earn if she was working at 7-11.
Maew spends money on clothes, cosmetics and gifts to her family. She also saves some of the money and dreams to open a shop in her home town.
Oi is from Bangkok, where her parents own a household accessory shop. Oi speaks fluent English and has a Bachelor degree. When she studied at the university did she become “mia noi” (second wife or lover) of a Thai businessman. In the beginning did he overwhelm her with gifts, but after a year did he lost interest in her and started to date another girl.
After finishing her studies did Oi place a profile on an international dating website. She only entertains foreign men, because, as she says, “Thai men are false”.
Oi is confident about her sexuality, and she enjoys the freedom of being a freelancer and being able to select her partners. Some of them become regular clients, which allows Oi to learn their peculiarities and give them what they prefer.
Oi is very discrete about her “hobby” and has no intention to settle down and form a family. She saves most the the money she earns and plans to start a business in the future.
Ann is from Bangkok and has three younger siblings. When she was eight years old did her father leave the family. Ann’s mother worked hard to feed her kids, but after some time did her health deteriorate so much that she could not work any more. As the oldest kid was it Ann’s duty to support the family.
Ann had no education, and young at age was she not able to find a job that could generate enough income. She became sex worker in a soapy parlour in Bangkok. Most clients are Thai men, and they don’t show respect to the sex workers, so when a friend told Ann that the tourists are better, she moved to Pattaya and started to work at a body massage parlour.
Ann has a decent income and can support her mother and siblings. She saves as much money as she can and hopes to open a business on her own in the near future.
Ploy is the oldest daughter in family in north east Thailand. They are farmers and grow rice, fruit and vegetables. Their income is barely sufficient to pay for daily expenses.
When Ploy was 13 did her father borrow money from a loan shark. The interest was 10 percent per month. After a couple of months had Ploy’s father spent the money and could not pay the loan shark. One day did the loan shark’s men beat him up so badly that he ended up in hospital.
In desperation took Ploy’s mother her daughter to Pattaya where Ploy became a bar girl. A young man from Sweden caught interest in Ploy. She said she was 18 years old. The bar owner said the same. The man paid the bar fine, and Ploy stayed with him for a week. Later did she discover that she was pregnant. She was able to contact him, and he started to send her money to support the child.
Today (2018) is Ploy 21 years, and she is still working as a bar girl. Ploy’s income make it possible for her younger siblings to get a good education, and her family is without debt. She says she will stop selling sex when her siblings can take care of themselves and their parents. (Story from media.)
Noy is aged 27 and comes from a small village in Laos, near the Thai border. Noy means small in Lao, and she lives up to her nickname.
Noy’s parents are farmers. The income from the family’s farm is at the best 150 baht per day. Noy is the smartest of two girls, and the family decided that she should study to become a doctor. Her parents took job at a rudder plantation in Thailand to saved money for their daughter’s education. But in 2011 did the price for raw rubber collapse, and Noy’s parents had to return empty handed to Laos.
Noy’s parents brought with them a Thai man. He was looking for a second wife. Noy didn’t complain about that, because the man was kind and paid a generous dowry to her parents. The man came on regular visits and gave Noi and her family many gifts. But after some time did he lose interest in her. Noy’s family decided that she should travel to Pattaya. After all, she was attractive and already “damaged goods” after her failed marriage. So it was logical that Noy should join the oldest profession in the world. She didn’t complain about that either.
The first two years did Noy earn between 50,000 and 100,000 baht per month. She sent the money to her family. Everything looked fine for them.
Then, in February 2017 did two British newspapers publish an article about Pattaya, describing it as the sex capital of Thailand. The article stated that there are 27,000 prostitutes in the city. The number was fictional and far from reality. But the damage was done; the military junta decided that they should do something about it and launched several raids on massage parlours and salons in Pattaya. Foreigners working at the parlours were arrested and deported from Thailand, and the owners of the parlours risked closure of the parlour, large fines and prison.
Noy’s boss was informed by his contact in the police that he could not protect them anymore. Thus, Noy lost her job because she was a foreigner. She got a job at another salon, but this salon has fewer guests and paid her less: Noy got 80 bath per massage and any extras she managed to get from the guests. She managed to earn 15,000 baht per month in the high season. This was just enough to pay for her expenses; her room, motorbike and life insurance for her parents. When the low season started didn’t Noy earn enough money and had to return home.
Today doesn’t Noy know what to do. She has a boyfriend, but his parents will probably forbid him to marry “damaged goods”. (Story from media)