Risks of sex tourism in Thailand

Alright, I don’t want any moral judgments here about either the patronizing of prostitutes or the exploitation of women. What I want to know is, is Thailand’s sex industry the death-trap that “Ettiquite for Outlaws” makes it out to be?

“Ettiquite for Outlaws” is a book of…well, ettiquite for outlaws, the do’s and don’ts of (not neccessarily illegal) fringe behavior. Things like gambling, drinking, punk rock, prostitution, etc. I don’t have the book here, but what it basically says is that Bangkok is a dangerous place and the sex industry is full of diseases and peril.

Well, first of all, I’ve always thought that most sex industry is a play-at-your-own-risk deal, and that as long as safe sex is practiced, you’re no better or worse off at any whore house. Second of all, the various things I’ve read and heard about the prostitution in Thailand make it sound very appealing to…someone who might like that kind of thing…-cough-… the girls are supposedly very affectionate (not cold and businesslike,) and the rates are extremely fair.

I know that you can’t make a blanket generalization about an entire sex industry, but on average, is the one in Thailand a “good” one as far as they go, or is really a horrible, vile thing the way E for O says it is (the same book has nothing but good things to say about Amsterdam and Nevada.)

One risk is that if you violate any American sex laws while in Thailand, you can be prosecuted in the US.

I haven’t read the book. Sounds interesting.

I would guess that the main difference between organized prostitution in Nevada/Amsterdam and Bangkok would be that in the former it’s legal, while in the latter it’s not. That means that the latter is more likely to be exposed to police corruption, trafficking in women, organized crime activities (drugs, money laundering etc), absence of health checks, ripping off unwary customers, etc, etc, etc.

From what I understand (and I know people here who think nothing of a weekend’s whoring in BKK), the girly bars and other establishments in the tourist areas in the city are relatively well-run, presumably with the authorities turning a blind eye in return for maintaining BKK’s “reputation”. The down-market places that cater to poorer local men are probably much murkier.

They speak better English in Nevada/Amsterdam, too. That might make a difference if the book’s authors are a bit unworldly.

Is simply visiting a prostitute something that’s likely to net a conviction? I don’t know much about such things, but my general impression is that it’s not all that uncommon for Americans to purchase sex in Thailand - as long as you’re not looking for someone underage, God forbid, is there a high real-world risk of legal complication? I’ve only ever heard of that law being invoked in cases of child sex tourism, which clearly isn’t what Argent Towers is discussing.

I was just in Pattya for a company off site meeting. It’s a giant whorehouse with a man made beach. You can go buy whatever you want starting at about $5 for a rub and tug while drinking at a bar with your buddies

to the OP – Don’t romanticize it. Thai’s are generally pretty happy people and it’s cheap compared to first world prostitution, but that does not translate into it being anything but a shitty sleezy business. Seeing young and I mean teenagers out selling themselves to big fat 50 year old bald white guys kinda takes all the romance out of it.

Yeah, there’s no blanket generalization. Pattaya is really a pit, IMHO. We stopped on the way back from another beach to try and eat there and I was a little embarassed to drive my family through the town. There are a couple of parts of Bangkok that are like that, but they are relatively small. But “the industry”, in some shape or form, probably exists throughout the city. There are allegedly a fair number of university (a very loose term in this case) “on the game”, sometimes to pick up some change, sometimes to snag a “walking ATM”. There are allegedly (never seen them) some very skanky low end brothels with Laos and Burmese chained to beds in a kind of sexual servitude. It can actually be a fairly tough thing to find a mid to low end bar in the “farang oriented” sections that don’t have girls on the make working there, with or without managment’s consent. The more farangs in a give bar the more likely that freelancers will frequent the place, but they’re usually not too pushy. It used to be that Thai women would not go to a bar alone or without male escort, so it was a safe assumption that unescorted Thai women were “working”. This has apparently begun to change.
Also a number of massage places, some legit, some not. Most Thai massage places in Bangkok are fully or mostly legit. When I say “mostly”, it’s because there can be some of the employees might try and make some extra change. This can be, frankly, annoying. Maybe that’s why the authors liked Amsterdam more; the line is more clearly drawn.
As for how dangerous it is – probably a little more than going to an American strip club in a town you know, but maybe less than that sleezy strip club on the edge of the town you’re visiting on business. There are a number of stories of curious “suicides” and other melodramatic happenings, but I’ve never heard them told about the guy who just got off the plane (although ripoffs are probably more likely for neophytes). More likely the guys who moved to Thailand for the express purpose of chasing as much tail as they could catch, and the law of averages finally caught up with them.
If you are going I highly recommend that you find a buddy or three to hang out with. There’s probably a higher likelihood of you falling in love with and blowing your life savings on some bargirl.

bwahahahahahaha nailed it in one

But we don’t really have any American sex laws, right? Yeah, taking young’uns across state/international borders for sex. Looking for underage sex. But there’s no federal law against prostitution. Can’t say there are many state laws the claim jurisdiction outside the state like the US pretends to do – Nevada would have some problems with that, right?

18 USC §2421 provides:

So it is a federal offense to travel overseas, or to another state, with the intent of engaging in prostitution or any criminal sexual conduct.

As I read the Mann Act, it only prohibits transporting an individual over state lines (which I agree includes travel to another country) so that the individual can engage in prostitution. In other words, the primary offender is the transporter.

I suppose a court could decide that transporting yourself is transporting an individual, but I’m not aware of any cases that have so held.

Recent efforts have resulted in improved statutes governing Child Sex Tourism, though. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/rls/45007.htm

Is that what that provision says? I thought it was referring to taking someone else across borders for the purposes of engaging in etc. etc.


Ok. It helps to look at a current version of the statute before posting. Sorry folks. Here is the current statute:


This statute has all kinds of states’ rights implications. Bring on the hypotheticals.

Let me clarify - sexually exploiting a child while in Thailand will get you deported by Thai authorities to American Federal custody, and you will be charged with violation of those laws.

Just “regular” prostitution: no

And don’t do like Walter Schirra III, and get nabbed at the airport with a suitcase full of pictures of young boys, condoms, viagra, a buttload of candy, and a ticket to Thailand.

Whoa! Walter Shirra III, as in astronaut Wally Shirra’s son? I had never heard of this!

Neither had I, but here it is: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/09/06/BAschirra06.DTL

I read, in Playboy IIRC, that one in three Thai prostiutes (maybe only Bankok, it’s been a while) is HIV positive. I can’t find a link to that article, but a Google of * Thailand HIV prostitutes * turned up quite a number of hits that suggests that Thai prostitutes do have a high rate of infection. I do remember the 1 in 3 number, thinking you have a 1 in 6 chance, or twice as good odds, with Russian Roulette.

It is more difficult to slip a prophylactic over the gun with Russian Roulette.

That depends on the caliber of either weapon, of course. What really matters is that the prophylactic is probably going to be considerably less effective in the case of Russian Roulette.