In assuming most men going on holiday alone to Thailand, are going to have sex with prostituted women or men?

(770 Posts)
Grennie Sat 15-Feb-14 13:52:03

It is estimated that about 1% of Thailand's GDP is earned through sexual exploitation tourism.

In 2003 (the last year for which full figures are available) some 545,000 British residents arrived on visits. If you remove the children, and the British citizens visiting for business or reasons other than a holiday, you arrive at about 489,000—314,000 men and 175,000 women. That is 139,000 more British men than women coming to Thailand for a holiday—a gap of 28 per cent.

In no other international holiday destination, is there such a big difference in the number of women and men travelling there. There is no obvious reason for this apart from prostitution.

Grennie Wed 19-Feb-14 14:27:27

"cultural experience", that is a novel way to describe the exploitation of women.

Ubik1 Wed 19-Feb-14 14:38:41

I really liked Bangkok. Didn't much enjoy the island scene - just loads of video cafes, westerners staggering about like they owned the place, and a rather drunk aggressive atmosphere at night coupled with some pretty presumptuous attitudes toward the Thai people.

Bangkok - fabulous big city, really fascinating; loved it. But old western men with young Thai women was a common sight and we didn't bother with ping pong balls etc.

There are other effects of tourism though - the villages up north, at the time, had a terrible heroin problem among their young people due to western travellers visiting and "sharing"

But then I travelled in Turkey too and at that time it was not uncommon for families to sell westerners the 'use' of a boy for a few weeks...this was ostensibly to act as a guide/run errands (we witnessed one westerner sending 'his' little boy off to buy socks at the market but then reject them as they were not cotton so sent him scurrying back) but is obviously open to all sorts of abuse.

Children are vulnerable in many countries due to poverty and westerners attitudes that these people are there to be exploited. It's not just Thailand by any stretch of the imagination.

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 15:04:16

Anyone who has been travelling in poor countries will see how children are exploited.

And how the poor are exploited. I know it's outside this thread but do you truly know the story of how your cheap clothes are made, your cheap products from Asia, your food from the Far East.

I've travelled and I've witnessed the poverty. Real poverty. And you have rich tourists - well, rich compared to you. I've seen beggars, children being used as beggars, people selling anything. Including themselves and their family.

If you have no education, no skills and no money and no support system, you can see how someone would become involved in prostitution. The demand is there - and it has been there for ages.

I do not know how we can stop women entering the sex trade as long as the demand is there. I do not know how the demand can ever be stopped.

And that's depressing.

FloraFox Wed 19-Feb-14 15:33:27

Well there's a bit of a twist. The derailers are complaining about the thread not discussing the actual point. How post-modern.

Grennie I don't think you've shown appropriate gratitude to justanotherposter for the sage advice about how you should have posted this thread or what you should do now. just do you offer classes in how to do feminism on MN?

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 15:42:28

Is that your contribution to the exploitation of women or have you actually got a useful contribution to make to the issue?

Or do you just want more arguments?

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 15:44:08

Because I could argue about those statistics and keep the arguments going- but that's not going to be helpful.

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 15:46:02

I could even spend ages discussing the word "derailer".
But I'm going to ignore your obvious attempts at provocation and see if you have anything useful to say.

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 15:51:24

Like I thought - you just want point scoring but when you are actually asked for some solutions, you keep quiet confused

FloraFox Wed 19-Feb-14 15:59:07

Good lord, the irony is in overload. You know I'm not actually glued to the keyboard so that I can make continual follow up posts to suit you.

If there was going to be thread police, it certainly wouldn't be you. Why don't you stop trying to control the conversation?

Ubik1 Wed 19-Feb-14 15:59:34

Oh I see i'm on one of the threads where certain posters are more interested in proving what a great feminist they are than talking about the issue

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 16:02:26

"Why don't you stop trying to control the conversation?"

"The derailers are complaining about the thread not discussing the actual point. How post-modern."

How ironic!! You complain about people not discussing the OP and then you complain when people do try and discuss the OP. We were having a conversation about it until you came in and added your contribution.

FloraFox Wed 19-Feb-14 16:45:18

Beach I agree that we have to focus on changing our culture. That starts with confronting the reality of the scale of this problem and the participation of people we know in it. So many people know someone who goes to Thailand who is either open about his reason for going or we can make some assumptions. We should be challenging these people, talking about uncomfortable truths about mass rape of women and children and the racism that underpins the exotic oriental sexual experience for western men. We should not allow this topic to descend into smirks about ping-pong balls when women's bodies are being degraded for idle amusement. We should not care if this discussion offends the minority of the men who are not directly perpetuating this abuse and if they were decent people, they would put their potential offence into perspective given the horrific exploitation actually happening to a huge number of people.

We should talk about this. We should not put gatekeepers on the conversation to demand to know the precise statistics or methodology of how the statistics were gathered. We should realise that the peer reviewed Journal of the Fucking Obvious tells us that quibbling over "most" or method is not productive given the scale of rape. We should not say "women do it too" when the problem is male demand to exploit women's bodies.

I don't agree that we can't change demand. We can change it through social action as well as through legislation. I'd like to look at how we can give some teeth to the sex tourism laws and make them more proactive. There are lots of things we could do. We could require airlines and travel agents to send education material to anyone who has booked a trip to Thailand to tell them about the abuse and that sex tourism is illegal. We could identify known areas of concern and require exit visas to visit that require travellers to identify where they will be staying and what is the purpose of their trip. It could ask them to identify what other travels they had made to other countries since the last time they had a visa. Travellers going primarily to sex tourism areas could be flagged for further enquiry.

To change demand, the first thing that needs to change is our attitudes. We need to change our attitude that western man's freedom to choose his holidays and not to be challenged for visiting sex tourism destinations takes priority over lives of women and children suffering mass scale rape and exploitation.

WhentheRed Wed 19-Feb-14 16:48:46

^ I just don't think innocent visitors actually think very hard about it tbh. Otherwise Thailand wouldn't have such a big tourist trade from families, couples and travelers.^

How is that different from what I said?

I agree with Beachcomber and the OP. These are conversations to be had at home with people we know are going to Thailand, especially the single men or the groups of men.

Technotropic Wed 19-Feb-14 16:53:36

All good except Thailand is not just a sex tourism area, neither is Amsterdam or Berlin etc. etc.

It's not just demand but the supply chain. Business is a two way thing so the issue needs to be tackled at both ends.

WhentheRed Wed 19-Feb-14 17:00:12

What's your point Technotropic? What would be your solution?

I think FloraFox has made some excellent suggestions for practical actions that people can take now to change social attitudes. What else would you recommend?

FloraFox Wed 19-Feb-14 17:16:08

Tech if it was just a sex tourism area, we could ban all trips to that area. As it is not, we can require people to prove the reason for their visit.

It's not just demand but the supply chain. Business is a two way thing so the issue needs to be tackled at both ends.

This is just an excuse to do nothing. We can and should tackle the demand because it is coming from our country and our communities. People in Thailand are not dragging western men to their country.

FloraFox Wed 19-Feb-14 18:08:56

Sorry I should have said earlier I agree with Beach and grennie who has also suggested talking to men we know about this.

Ubik1 Wed 19-Feb-14 18:11:28

Are you saying people shouldn't visit Thailand?

What other countries are on the list?

We have an active sex trade here which I am sure does very well out of business conferences and tourism

Technotropic Wed 19-Feb-14 18:12:22

We'll sadly there aren't, to my knowledge anyway, many sex specific tourist destinations so it would be easy to disprove any accusation or prove that you're only sight seeing.

Beachcombers husband is a prime example where he could easily prove he's on business. Yet he could be going out at night doing all sorts of despicable stuff.

The solution? I doubt there is one that will work 100% but raising our children better would be a start as would getting our Governments to work more closely with theirs to make it more difficult through changes in laws.

But then in Amsterdam and Germany, prostitution is legal so what then?

Technotropic Wed 19-Feb-14 18:14:49

However, education is one thing. What about those women who choose to enter prostitution freely. I realise most feminists disagree that women enter into this freely at all but how do you educate someone who does not want to be educated?

Ubik1 Wed 19-Feb-14 18:17:24

We could identify known areas of concern and require exit visas to visit that require travellers to identify where they will be staying and what is the purpose of their trip. It could ask them to identify what other travels they had made to other countries since the last time they had a visa. Travellers going primarily to sex tourism areas could be flagged for further enquiry.

So if you are in manufacturing, let's say clothing, which takes you to a conference in Amsterdam, perhaps some business in Berlin and later a visit to your manufacturers in Thailand (many clothing retailers manufacture in Thailand, including M&S) then that would justify investigation into your private life? And by whom?

Beachcomber Wed 19-Feb-14 18:30:27

So many people know someone who goes to Thailand who is either open about his reason for going or we can make some assumptions. We should be challenging these people, talking about uncomfortable truths about mass rape of women and children and the racism that underpins the exotic oriental sexual experience for western men. We should not allow this topic to descend into smirks about ping-pong balls when women's bodies are being degraded for idle amusement. We should not care if this discussion offends the minority of the men who are not directly perpetuating this abuse and if they were decent people, they would put their potential offence into perspective given the horrific exploitation actually happening to a huge number of people.

Yes.

Blistory Wed 19-Feb-14 18:33:02

How did this manage to come back to the women who enter the sex trade ? They are not the problem, simply the victims.

You stop the sex trade quite simply by ensuring that men don't buy sex.

Providing support, emotional and financial, to the victims of this foul industry does nothing to stop the next generation of victims. All it does is allow us to pat ourselves on the back for being humane. But that's so much easier than going after the source, isn't it ? Heaven forbid we have an uncomfortable discussion with men and point out to them that their behaviour is unacceptable or that we expect more of them.

Much, much easier to patch up the rape victim that to prevent the rape from happening in the first place especially if the alternative is hurting the ego of a man.

FloraFox Wed 19-Feb-14 18:50:50

Ubik Amsterdam and Berlin are in the EU which presents different challenges.

Border control agencies don't care much about intruding into your private life. It's part and parcel of travelling overseas. Countries do lots of different things to reflect social and cultural values e.g. Malaysian passports do not permit entry into Israel.

A business trip would be very easy to evidence, no particular intrusion required. However it is typical of a liberal / libertarian approach that prioritises minimal levels of intrusion into private life over reducing demand for industrial rape and abuse. Once again, liberalism / libertarianism comes to the rescue of privileged men.

Justanotherposter Wed 19-Feb-14 18:52:09

Don't you think that providing female education and opportunities in employment are just as important as educating men?

I can't imagine living in a country with no financial support and poor job opportunities and having to support a child. If there is no work available and you saw women making money from the sex industry, wouldn't you be tempted?

That is not to say that men don't need educating. And a cultural shift is needed. But providing alternate income sources, education and employment must be a good thing as well.

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