Thailand -- Comments on Legal Ages
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Update 07-2002:
We recently came across the following ... which contradicts much of what we have published ... we can't
confirm or deny the contents -- but are including it as a FYI:
Montri Sinthawichai, secretary-general of the Child Protection Foundation, 
said a law on statutory rape was already in place.   Those who commit statutory 
rape of girls under 13 could get anything from seven years to life behind bars.
Source:  http://www.thailandlife.com/thaiyouth_66.html   dated Jan 11, 2002.  

 

Updated 03-17-01:
Referrence: Section 277 of The Thai Penal Code: 

                     "WHOEVER has sexual intercourse with a girl
                     not yet over fifteen years of age and not being
                     his own wife, whether such girl shall consent or
                     not, shall be punished with imprisonment of four
                     to twenty years and fined between Bt8,000 to
                     Bt40,000. 

                     "If the commission of the offence according to
                     the first paragraph is committed against a girl
                     not yet over thirteen years of age, the offender
                     shall be punished with imprisonment of seven
                     to twenty years and fine of Bt14,000 to
                     Bt40,000 or imprisonment for life. 

                     "If the commission of the offence according to
                     the first of second paragraph is committed by
                     participation of persons in the nature of raping
                     and/or murdering a girl, or by using weapons or
                     explosives, the offender shall be punished with
                     imprisonment for life." 
                                                                      

                 
Date: 5/20/97  Publication: The Nation                                               Section: Local 

       Legislative amendment set to outlaw male rape 

       MEN who rape other men or boys may soon face penalties equal to those faced by men
       convicted of raping females. 

       The Council of Social Service Ministers has agreed in principle to have the the Criminal Code
       amended so, in effect, males will also be considered the victims of rape under the law,
       Government Spokesman Warathep Rattanakorn said yesterday. 

       Currently under Article 276 of the code, only those convicted of raping women face the
       maximum penalty of a 20-year prison term and/or a Bt40,000 fine. 

       According to Article 278, any offender, regardless of gender, who forces a male aged over 15
       years into a sexual act, is convicted only of sexual molestation, which carries the maximum
       penalty of a 10-year prison term and/or a Bt20,000 fine. 

       Under the amendment, those who forcibly sodomise males over age 15 would face the penalty
       equal to those convicted of rape ­ a 20-year prison term and/or a Bt40,000 fine. 

       Cases where the victims are under 15, regardless of whether they give consent, would also
       carry the same penalty. 

       Those who sodomise boys under 13, regardless of whether they give consent, would face a
       20-year prison term and/or a Bt40,000 fine, or life imprisonment. 

       Those people who perform other sexual acts on men against their will would be subjected to
       the same penalty as in Article 278. They would face a 15-year prison term and/or a Bt30,000
       fine if the crime is committed on men younger than 15, regardless of whether they give
       consent. 

       The council also agreed that penalties for those convicted of the possession or production of
       pornographic material should be increased in an attempt to eradicate child pornography, the
       spokesman said. 

       The amendment would also include an amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code to ensure
       the protection of children's rights during police questioning, court testimonies and procedures,
       he said. 
                                                                   
Updated 01-2001:
Source:  http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws

Thailand - Thaïlande - Tailandia
Bangkok



I. Ages for legal purposes

Age of simple majority

According to the Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act, " child " means a person who is not
yet over 18 years of age.

Age of consent for marriage
Book 5 of the Civil and Commercial Code states that marriage can be done when both parties are
seventeen (17) years of age but with a reasonable ground , the court may permit them to be married
before.



II. Rape


Title IX ‘Offences relating to sexuality’Section 277 of the Penal Code

" Whoever has sexual intercourse with a girl not yet over thirteen years of age, with or without her
consent, shall be punished with imprisonment of seven (7) to twenty (20) years and fine of fourteen
thousand to forty thousand baht, or imprisonment for life.

If the offence according to the first paragraph is committed by participation of persons in the
nature for destroying a girl and such girl is not consent, or by carrying or using any gun or
explosive, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for life. "

Title IX Section 277 bis

" If the commission of offence according to the first paragraph of … Section 277 causes :

1.grievious bodily harm to the victim, the offender shall be punished with
imprisonment of fifteen to twenty years and fine of thirty thousand to forty
thousand baht, or imprisonment for life.

2.death of the victim, the offender shall be punished with death or
imprisonment for life.

Title IX Section 277 ter

" If the commission of the offence according to the second paragraph of … Section 277 causes

1.grievious bodily harm to the victim, the offender shall be punished with
death or imprisonment for life.

2.death to the victim, the offender shall be punished with death .

Title IX Section 285

" If the commission of offence according to … Section 277, 277 bis, 277 ter, … is against the
descendant, apupil under taken his care, a person under his control according to his official
authority, or a person under his tutorship, guardianship, or curatorship, the offender shall be

liable heavier punishment than that as provided in such section by one third. "



III Other form of child sex abuse


Title IV Section 279

" Whoever commits an indecent act on a child not over thirteen years of age, with or without her
consent, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding ten years or fine not exceeding
twenty thousand baht, or both.

If the commission of offence according to the first paragraph, the offender commits it by
threatening by any means whatever, by doing any act of violence, by taking advantage of such
child being in the condition of inability to resist, or by causing such child to mistake him for
another person, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding fifteen years or
fine not exceeding thirty thousand baht, or both. "

The Section 285 is also applied in the case of indecent acts.



IV. Child prostitution


The " Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act ". In this Act " Prostitution " means

" The acceptance of sexual intercourse, the acceptance of any other act, or the commission of any
act for sexual gratification of another person in a promiscuous manner, in order to gain financial or
other benefit, no matter whether the person who accepts such act and the person who commits
such act are of the same or opposite sex "

Section 8 of the " Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act " states

" Whoever, for sexual gratification of that person or of the third person, commits sexual intercourse
or any other act against a person who is over fifteen (15) years but not yet over eighteen (18) years
of age, with or without his or her consent, in a place for prostitution, shall be punished with
imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of twenty thousand to sixty thousand baht.

If the commission of the offence as specified in the first paragraph is committed against a child not
over fifteen (15) years of age, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of two to six years
and a fine of forty thousand to one hundred and twenty thousand baht. "

Section 9 of the " Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act " states

" Whoever procures, seduces, or traffics the other person to commit the act of prostitution, even
with consent of the other person, no matter whether the commission of various acts which
constitute the offence are committed inside or outside the territory of the Kingdom, shall be
punished with imprisonment of one to ten years and an fine of twenty thousand to two hundred
thousand baht.

If the commission of the offence as specified in the first paragraph is against a person who is over
fifteen (15) years but not yet over eighteen (18) years of age, the offender shall be punished with
imprisonment of five to fifteen years and a fine of one hundred thousand to three hundred
thousand baht.

If the commission of the offence as specified in the first paragraph is against a child not over
fifteen (15) years of age, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of ten to twenty years
and a fine of two hundred thousand to hundred thousand baht.

If the commission of the offence as specified in the first, second or third paragraph is perpetrated
by using deceitful means, threat, physical assault, immoral influence, or mental coercion by any
other means, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment one-third heavier than the
punishment accordingly specified in the first, second, third or fourth paragraph as the case may
be. "

Section 10 of the " Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act " states

" Whoever is the father, mother, or guardian of a person not yet over eighteen (18) years of age,
with the knowledge that there is the commission of the offence as specified in the second third, or
fourth paragraph of Section 9 against the person within his or her guardianship, colludes with
another offender in the commission of that offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of four to
twenty years, and a fine of eighty thousand to four hundred thousand baht. "

Section 11 of the " Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act " states

" Whoever is the owner, supervisor, or manager of a prostitution business or a place for
prostitution, or controller of a prostitute in the place of prostitution, shall be punished with
imprisonment of three to fifteen years, and a fine of sixty thousand to three hundred thousand baht.

If the prostitution business or place for prostitution as specified, has a person not yet over
eighteen (18) years of age performing the act of prostitution in such place, the offender shall be
punished with imprisonment of five to fifteen years, and a fine of one hundred thousand to three
hundred thousand baht.

If the prostitution business or place for prostitution as specified , has a child not yet over fifteen
(15) years of age performing the act of prostitution in such place, the offender shall be punished
with imprisonment of ten to twenty years, and a fine of two hundred thousand to four hundred
thousand baht. "

Section 12 of the " Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act " states

" Whoever detains or confines the other person, commits any other act that deprives the liberty of
the other person, assaults the other person, or threatens with any other means to use physical force
to commit a violent act against the other person, in order to force the other person to perform the
prostitution activity, shall be punished with imprisonment of ten to twenty years, and a fine of two
hundred to four hundred thousand baht.

If the commission of the offence as specified in the first paragraph causes to the other person :

1) serious bodily injury, the offender shall be punished with life imprisonment.

2) death, the offender shall be punished with the death penalty or life
imprisonment.

(...) "



V. Child pornography


Section 287 of the Penal Code

" Whoever :

1.for the purpose of trade or by trade, for public distribution or exhibition,
makes, produces, possesses, brings, or causes to be brought into the
Kingdom, sends causes to be sent out of the kingdom, takes away or causes
to be taken away, or circulates by any means whatever, any document,
drawing, print, painting, printed matter, picture, poster, symbol,
photograph, cinematograph film, noise tape, picture tape or any other
thing which is obscene ;

2.carries on trade, or takes part or participates in the tradeconcerning the
aforesaid obscene material or thing, or distributes or exhibits to the public,
or hires out such material or thing ;

3.in order to assist in the circulation or trading of the aforesaid obscene
material or thing,propagates or spreads the news by any means whatever
that there is a person committing the act which is an offence according to
this section, or propagates or spreads the news that the aforesaid obscene
material or thing may be obtained from which person or by what means,

shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years or fine not exceeding six thousand
baht, or both. "

Thailand

 

 

EDITOR:  Update 09-2000
What the law says

 The following are penalties for offences relating to sexual crimes and
 child prostitution:1. The Criminal Code:Article 276: Those who rape
 women who are not their wives, either by coercion or physical
 violence, are liable to four to 20 years imprisonment or a fine of 8,000
 to 40,000 baht.

 Article 283: If the same offence is committed on a child not yet over
 15 years of age, the offender is liable to imprisonment of 10-20 years
 and a fine of 20,000 to 40,000 baht, or life imprisonment, or death.

 Article 287: Those possessing obscene publications or films for
 commercial purposes or distribution face a three-year jail term or a
 fine of not more than 6,000 baht or both.

 The penalty extends to those involved in the distribution of such
 publications and those who help advertise them.

 2. The 1996 Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act:Article 8:
 Those who rape or have sex in a brothel with children aged over 15,
 but not yet 18, with or without the consent of the children, are subject
 to one to three years imprisonment or a fine of 20,000 to 60,000
 baht.

 If the victim is under 15 years of age, the offender is liable to 2-6
 years imprisonment or a fine of 40,000 to 200,000 baht.

 Article 9: Those who lure or persuade others into prostitution face a
 jail term of one to 10 years or a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 baht.

 However, if those who are lured or persuaded into the trade are more
 than 15, but have not reached 18, offenders are liable to a jail term of
 five to 15 years and a fine of 100,000 to 300,000 baht.

 Where the victims are under 15, offenders face a jail term of 10 to 20
 years and a fine between 200,000 to 400,000 baht.

 Article 10: Parents or guardians who are involved in offences
 according to Article 9 face a jail sentence of four to 20 years or a fine
 of 80,000 to 400,000 baht.

 Article 11: Owners or managers of brothels or those engaged in the
 prostitution business are liable to a jail term of three to 15 years and a
 fine of 60,000 to 300,000 baht.

 If the prostitutes are more than 15, but not yet 18 years of age, the
 owners or managers are liable to a jail term of five to 15 years or a
 fine of 100,000 to 300,000 baht.

 But if children under 15 are found in such places, the owners and
 managers face 10 to 20 years jail term or a fine of 200,000 to
 400,000 baht.

 Article 12: Those who detain or deprive others of freedom, or use
 physical violence to force others into prostitution are liable to 10 to 20
 years imprisonment or a fine of 200,000 to 400,000 baht.

 3. The 1997 Constitution (concerning search and arrest
 operations):Article 237: In criminal cases, arrests can only be made
 with a court order, or when suspects are caught in the act. Charges
 must be filed as soon as possible and the suspect's kin or relatives
 must be informed immediately.

 Detainees must be brought to court within 48 hours after the arrest.

 Article 238: In criminal cases, a search must not be carried out in
 public places unless the police have court orders or there is good
 reason to allow the search without court orders.
                                                       
And August 24, 1998:
Law banning prostitution not enforced stringently, seminar told 

 Bar owners believed involved in sex trade

 Anjira Assavanonda

 Operators of nightspots where under-age prostitutes ply their trade
 should be taxed out of business, the secretary-general of the Children
 Protection Foundation said yesterday.

 Many people who operate discotheques, pubs, bars and nightclubs
 are believed to be involved in the sex trade, Montri Sintavichai told a
 seminar on the theme: Child Prostitution: Who Will Be Held
 Responsible?

 Under-age prostitutes are found not only in brothels but in nightspots
 frequented by the well-to-do, he told the seminar organised by
 Mahidol University's Faculty of Social Science and Humanities.

 "It is difficult to take action as such establishments are legal," said Mr
 Montri. "Therefore, one way to put a greater financial burden on the
 operators is through taxation, forcing them indirectly to close down. I
 believe this could reduce the number of under-age prostitutes."

 Mr Montri was supported by Pol Gen Kraisuk Sinsuk, deputy national
 police chief, who said a number of brothels have become
 entertainment places usually backed by influential people and officials,
 which made it difficult for the police to crack down on them.

 According to Mr Montri, the Anti-Prostitution Act is not enforced
 stringently and is riddled with loopholes.

 He cited a case in which police failed to arrest a child abuser since he
 did not have sex in the brothel. Further, the abuser might claim he did
 not know the prostitute was younger than 18 years because she used a
 fake identification card.

 Some problems stem from prostitutes who enter the sex trade
 voluntarily and refuse assistance from state officials or NGOs.

 Mr Montri said youngsters are generally lured into the sex trade, enter
 the business voluntarily or are pressured by their families.

 "The most worrying group is those who choose to enter the sex trade,"
 he said. "They are obsessed with nightlife, drugs, alcohol, gambling
 and luxuries so they try to make as much money as possible to serve
 their needs.

 "And one way to fulfill their desires is to offer sexual services. These
 youngsters often reject our help and feel as if we are interfering in their
 private lives. Their number is increasing every day and they never think
 about quitting," said Mr Montri.

 Since this group has become more difficult to approach, the tax
 increase on entertainment places where they usually hang out could be
 an indirect means of pulling them out of the sex trade, he said.

 Other solutions are to teach children right-thinking concepts and to
 keep them in school as long as possible. Rehabilitation facilities are
 important to help those who want to quit and live normal lives in
 society.
And April 5, 1999:
CRIME / PROBLEMS ENFORCING THE LAW

Struggle to curb under-aged prostitution

 Police cannot act without a tip-off

 Aphaluck Bhatiasevi and Wassayos Ngarmkham

 Police have admitted that it is difficult to enforce the law which makes
 having sex with under-aged prostitutes a crime punishable by
 imprisonment.

 Pol Maj-Gen Jongrak Chuthanont, deputy commissioner of
 Metropolitan Police Bureau, said yesterday that since sexual activities
 between male patrons and young prostitutes mostly occurred in such
 places as a motel or a massage parlour, it was almost impossible for
 the police to know about it without being tipped off by somebody.

 Even if police knew about the activities, the male clients must be
 caught in the act to be punished.

 However, Pol Maj-Gen Jongrak said, the law which came into force
 in 1996 might have discouraged men from using child prostitutes,
 resulting in a drop in the number of arrests.

 The law aims to impose harsher penalties against those trafficking in,
 patronising or profiting from prostitutes under 18.

 Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry said there are still at least 6,400
 child prostitutes in the country, many of them from neighbouring
 countries.

 Vichai Chokewiwat, a senior official at the Communicable Diseases
 Control Department said a recent survey showed 10 percent of sex
 workers in Thailand are below 18 and considered child prostitutes. 

 The survey, conducted throughout the country last January, states that
 there are about 64,000 sex workers in the country, a figure with 5-20
 percent variability.

 Most of the sex workers are employed in restaurants and karaoke
 entertainments.

 The survey, often referred to as the most reliable source of information
 on prostitution in Thailand, went on to say that the number of male
 prostitutes is about 20,000 and mostly concentrated in four to five
 provinces attracted by foreign tourists.

 The government's brothel crackdown campaigns have pushed sex
 workers from direct establishments to work in restaurants, karaoke
 entertainments, barber shops, bars, nightclubs, pubs and traditional
 and modern massage parlours, said Dr Vichai

 Out of some 50 types of indirect sexual establishments, the ministry
 has focused a survey on 20, most of which are easily reached by
 health officials, he said.

 These include 3,000 restaurants, over 1,000 karaoke bars and 1,000
 beer bars and nightclubs which offer sex in areas near their
 establishments in order to avoid the law, said Dr Vichai.

 "Most of them are advised to do so by the police so that the sexual
 establishment and the police can stay together," he said.

 Though the police continue to deny that direct sexual establishments
 continue to exist in the country, the Health Ministry's survey found 500
 people continue to be employed as direct sex workers, 79 of them are
 employed in brothels in Bangkok.

 There were about 100 sex workers roaming around the Sanam Luang
 area in Bangkok and about 5,000 working in traditional massage
 establishments.

 The fear of being infected with HIV/Aids has reduced the number of
 men visiting sex workers, though the number of the so called "special
 service women" in the country has remained constant for the past few
 years, said deputy director-general of the Communicable Diseases
 Control Department Thongchai Temprasit.

 He however expressed concern over the increasing trend of VD in
 southern provinces, adding that there is fear that the Aids epidemic
 may also be on the rise.

 Quoting the survey results, Dr Thongchai said that a couple of years
 ago each sex worker had to entertain 4-5 customers a day. But the
 number has reduced to about one client per day, he said.

 Another survey conducted on 21-year-old young military recruits
 showed that the number of Thai men visiting sex workers decreased
 from 60 percent in 1991 to 12 percent in 1997.

 A study conducted by Mahidol University showed that Thai men
 commenced their sexual activities at the age of 29 years. It was
 previously 24-25 years.

 Confirming the decreasing trend of Thai men visiting sex workers,
 Venereal Disease Control Division director Anuphong Chitvarakorn
 said statistics obtained from VD clinics throughout the country show
 that the number of patients visiting the clinic decreased by 20 percent
 within a few years.

 Dr Anuphong said about 10 years ago, VD clinics treated some
 380,000 persons per year, but the number of patients have plunged to
 18,000 persons last year. Condom use among Thai men visiting sex
 workers has increased from 60 percent in 1993 to 98 percent in
 1997.

 In a move to boost prevention campaigns against sexually transmitted
 diseases before the long Songkran holidays, the Ministry of Public
 Health has joined with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in
 campaigning and distributing condoms at various areas, outbound from
 Bangkok railway and bus stations between April 5-9. 

 

And April 6, 1999:
All that activity, but no arrests

 Ever wondered why not one man has been arrested, tried and
 sentenced for using an under-age or child prostitute since the law was
 passed three years ago making the patronising of child prostitutes a
 crime punishable by imprisonment?The fact that not a single case has
 made it as far as the courts tends to raise more questions than it does
 answers.

 Could it mean that the law has been so effective that it has so scared
 the hell out of men that they no longer use young prostitutes if they are
 not sure if a girl is under or over 18 years old?Could it mean that men
 have become more morally responsible, or more faithful to their wives
 or girlfriends, or more health-conscious because of the Aids scourge
 that they have avoided visiting brothels or other vice dens frequented
 by young prostitutes?Could it mean that child prostitutes really are a
 thing of the past?The truth is that child prostitution is still flourishing.
 There are still plenty of child prostitutes even if they are not normally
 found in brothels these days.

 According to a survey conducted recently by the Public Health
 Ministry, there are about 6,400 child prostitutes, or roughly 10 percent
 of total prostitutes nationwide. And as we know all too well, official
 numbers tend to be conservative and unrealistic. The real number of
 child prostitutes may be several times higher.

 But what these figures do show is that there still is a demand for child
 prostitutes despite the tougher laws and Aids.

 And how heavy is this demand?Using simple arithmetic and basing it
 on the assumption that each child prostitute serves, say, four
 customers a day, the number of men frequenting young sex workers
 averages 25,600 a day. That's 25,600 breaches of the prostitution law
 committed each and every day. And yet not a single case has been
 brought to the courts. This is unbelievable.

 According to Pol Maj-Gen Jongrak Chuthanont, the deputy
 commissioner of the metropolitan police bureau, brothel operators
 now do not allow sexual activities between clients and child prostitutes
 on their premises. Most of the couplings between young women and
 their paying customers takes place outside, such as at motels, and
 there is no way police can know about these activities without being
 tipped off, he said. And the men have to be caught in the act before
 they can be punished-which does not occur as often as we would
 expect.

 To catch a sex worker in the act, police often pose as patrons. Having
 received the service, the officer hands the girl money which is marked
 and then makes an arrest. But this cannot be done with a male patron.
 The idea of using an under-age girl as bait to lure a patron may sound
 too outlandish and invite a public backlash. But there is no reason for
 police to be discouraged and lose faith in the law, which does have a
 deterrent effect.

 Even if men are rarely caught with child prostitutes, the police can still
 do more to curtail the problem of child prostitution-if not solve it-by
 hitting the other targets-the brothel operators, procurers and
 pimps-harder. But this will depend on the police going about their job
 very seriously and, more importantly, having the will to resist the bribes
 offered by those who make their fortunes in the flesh trade.

 Perhaps Pol Maj-Gen Jongrak is unaware of the disclosure by health
 officials involved in the survey that some unscrupulous police officers
 have advised brothel operators how to get around the law so that they
 can continue in the lucrative trade of making young women available.

 So law enforcers are just not catching culprits with their pants down,
 but actually are part of the problem themselves.
On Sept 27, 1999:
Facing the difficult truth

 Even with the most glaring evidence against them, many foreign paedophiles have
 escaped standing trial. But one organisation is working to tighten Thai laws in this area
 and ensure child victims get justice Ukrit Kungsawanich

 In February 1993, a police squad, tipped off by a Western informer, stormed into 
room 552 of a Pattaya hotel to find a 14-year-old boy lying
 half-naked next to a 66-year-old Swede-a retired civil servant named Bengt Bolin.

 In spite of the evidence, Bolin was granted bail by a Chon Buri court. He
 managed to get a new passport, jumped bail, and returned home. 

 Following much publicity in his home country, Bolin was called to trial in
 1995.

 The Swedish court requested the victim to testify-a near impossible task
 since the youngster was a vagrant and moved about. The order to appear
 in court was being made two years after the incident.

 Thanks to the studious work of Face-the Coalition to Fight Against Child
 Exploitation-the teenager was eventually located and chaperoned to
 Sweden. His testimony helped seal the case against Bolin who was found
 guilty. He was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay the
 victim 150,000 baht compensation.

 The Bolin case was a first. It was the first time a sexually-abused minor
 had testified in person in a foreign court.

 It was also for Face, the small organisation founded by two Thais in April
 1995, to monitor and follow up cases of foreign paedophiles in Thailand.

 Face was born out of the concern of social worker Sudarat Sereewat
 and lawyer Wanchai Roujanavong.

 After conducting research on child prostitution at the end of 1987, Ms
 Sudarat received a grant to form Ecpat-a campaign aimed at fighting child
 prostitution in Asian tourism.

 Working from the legal side, Ecpat continues to strive to encourage
 governments around the world to amend or pass laws to deal with this
 international issue of paedophilia and child prostitution.

 "Ecpat works hard, but it is not in their remit to follow up on cases of
 arrested paedophiles," said Ms Sudarat, secretary-general of Face.

 Recognising this gap, she left Ecpat and with help from prosecutor Mr
 Wanchai, set up Face.

 "According to my research, more than 5,000 foreigners visit Thailand
 each year to have sex with children, both boys and girls," said Ms
 Sudarat.

 "Even though there is more public awareness about this issue now, many
 of these people get away with the crime," she added.

 While Face is committed to working to strengthen local laws to protect
 the rights of children, it also actively monitors the progress of cases.

 Ms Sudarat said: "People ask us why we only focus on foreign
 paedophiles since there are Thai paedophiles, too.

 "The reason is, because these tourists, mainly Japanese, are willing to pay
 a lot to have sex with virgin children. Some Japanese will pay as high as
 20,000 baht."

 Such willingness to pay, which far eclipses what local paedophiles will
 pay, provides a high incentive for pimps to lure or force more children
 into the business.

 Face also works to raise public awareness and change attitudes towards
 child exploitation and commercial sex.

 Many Thai people, she said, seem somewhat apathetic about the issue.

 "When the case of Bolin broke in Sweden, his face was on the front page
 of almost every newspaper there the very next day," said Ms Sudarat. In
 addition, a Danish TV crew even made a documentary film entitled
 Pattaya Room 552.

 "Here, though, people paid scant attention to the news. Only one
 newspaper in Thailand reported the story-and it appeared as a small item
 on an inside page. This shows Thai people are apathetic about this
 problem," she said.

 The attitude, said Ms Sudarat, was well illustrated by comments from a
 Thai official involved in the trial of Bolin. "This man told me I shouldn't be
 furious that Bolin got away [from Thai legal action]. He said, 'Unlike a
 girl, the boy has nothing to lose, also he got paid for it'," Ms Sudarat said.

 She said, Face also lobbies for improved legal procedures so the process
 at court level is more efficient and effective.

 "We want to speed up court procedure so it's more likely the alleged
 abuser and the victim are around so legal action can in fact take place,"
 she said.

 Many youngsters involved in the flesh trade are homeless and so do not
 stay in one place for long. This, however, does not mean they should not
 enjoy the same legal protection of other children.

 "When arrests take place, to make the court case possible, the abused
 children are sent to stay in a rehabilitation centre. But these youngsters
 can't stand it too long, and many times they abscond from the shelter,"
 said Ms Sudarat.

 The same also goes for the accused, like in the Bolin case.

 "If we can lessen the complications of the government paper work, we
 can actually retain these people in Thailand and see them brought to
 justice."

 Despite many obstacles, Face has things to celebrate.

 Over the last three years, the organisation had put more than 10 foreign
 child molesters behind the bars of local prisons.

 One of them was Frazer Darling, a British teacher in a Bangkok school.

 His involvement in molesting school boys was exposed, and with the help
 of Face who worked side by side with the court and police, he was
 sentenced to 33 years in a Thai prison.

 Apart from their commitment to monitoring and advocacy, Face also has
 a public campaign to raise awareness via education, the mass media,
 government agencies, and NGOs to end child prostitution in Thailand.

 In order to work more effectively, Face has formed a network with other
 organisations like Child Workers in Asia, the Centre for the Protection of
 Children's Rights, and the Development & Education Programme for
 Daughters and Communities Centre.

 Despite its successes, Face remains realistic in its goals.

 "To totally end child prostitution in Asia may be impossible since we are
 fighting against such powerful forces like traditional beliefs, and money,"
 said Ms Sudarat.

 However, she said, society must pay greater attention to the problem of
 child sexual abuse for several reasons.

 "Youngsters who are sexually abused are much more likely to become
 abusers themselves-venting their frustration and anger on other children
 who are defenceless."

 With many anti-paedophile bills pending in parliament and many laws due
 to be amended, Face's mission is far from over.

 "When we can change the attitudes of the judges and get rid of
 corruption, our children will be protected from commercial sex operations
 and trafficking," said Ms Sudarat.

 

"After midnight, girls aged 13-15 in party dresses are found waiting for customers at Patpong and in front of Robinson
Department Store on Silom Road. Each girl earns 500-1,000 baht a day on average," Mr Thiraphan said.

"It is difficult to change these girls' attitudes because they think they can earn their own living and have enough money to stay at
luxurious hotels and buy nice clothing with this occupation," he said.

 

 

On Sept 22, 1999:

EDUCATION

Young Thais taught sex later than foreign peers

Anjira Assavanonda

Young Thais are given sex education later than their peers in 13 other countries, according to a survey released yesterday.

The average age for Thais to receive their first sex education is 13.5 years against the average of 12.2 years, with Germans the youngest at 11.3 years.

Surveyed by London International Group, a condom-maker, were 4,200 people aged 16-21 with sexual and non-sexual experiences, from
Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The survey shows that young people do not always receive their sex education from the most reliable sources. Most, or 30%, said they learned from their friends and 12% from their parents.

Of the young Thais, 41% said their friends were the most informative source, followed by books, 14%; TV and sexual partners, 6%; and parents, 1%.

Thailand also recorded the lowest global use of condoms for first-time sex at 23% against an overall rate of 57 %. The primary reason given was a lack of availability.

Only 9% of young Thais carry condoms with them against 48% of German youths. The reasons given for using condoms are reliability, protection against HIV and pregnancy, and ease of use.

The survey shows that globally, the average age at which the sexually active had first sex is 15.9 years. Young people on the American continent and in Western Europe have sex earliest while those from Eastern and Southern Europe and Southeast Asia seem more inclined to wait. Thais averaged 16.5 years.

Half of the sexually active sample said they had their first sexual experience because they and their partners felt ready. This is one of the major reasons for losing virginity.

Of the total, 14% waited until their partners were ready, 12% said they were persuaded or pressured into it and 12% said they were drunk.

Among virgins, 47% said they did not feel ready for it, 27% were ready but had yet to meet the right partner and 9 % said they had not the opportunity.

The global average for sexual activity is 98 times per year. Young women claim to have sex 104 times a year but men 93. Opportunity is a key factor. The survey shows those living at home have sex 86 times a year while those who live with a partner 175 times. Thai youths averaged 92 times a year.

The global average for the number of sexual partners in the age group is 4.9, with the US leading with 7.5 and the UK 6.4. Globally, 34% of the sexually active said they had experienced a sexual relationship with more than one person at a time. Young Thais are the most likely to have been unfaithful to a sexual partner (52 %), followed by Americans (43%),
while Mexicans are found to be the most faithful. Globally, fear of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases has the most impact, with 45% saying this was their biggest fear.

 

EMAIL RECEIVED:
Subject: Thailand´s age of consent
Date:    Sun, 11 Apr 1999 11:17:31 +0200   
Thailand¨s age of consent is 15 years old, but if money or
presents are involved it is 18 y-o for anyone

 

EDITOR NOTE:  Spelling and grammar errors left as received.
In Thailand, the approach to protective legislation has 
also involved amendments to the Penal Code. There has 
been a firm governmental commitment since 1993 to 
eliminate child sexual exploitation. Amendments to the 
Code at that time provided serious penalties for those 
who engaged ill the sexual abuse of children and updated 
the laws on pornography. New amendments this year (1996)
 ~vil1 mean that while pro stitution per se will no longer 
be a crime in Thailand, soliciting and publicising for the 
pu~~oses of prostitution will be punishable. 
Engaging in prostitution with a person under the age of
18 will be punishable if the act takes place "in a place 
of prostitution". However, if the act takes place 
elsewhere, the age of consent is 15. 
Boy children continue to lack adequate protection in that 
rape and unlawful sexual intercourse can not be committed 
against male children, by virtue of a judicial 
interpretation of the provisions of the Code. 

 

 A green harvest of a different kind
 by Kamol Hengkietisak
 Bangkok Post: March 20, 1994 (Page 17)

 

 `Tok khiew' or "green harvest" originally meant "pledging green paddy"
 for loans. The term had been used extensively for decades as a symbol of
 the farmers' hardship. It was often the case that most farmers did not
 have enough to sustain themselves while waiting for their paddy to
 mature enough for harvest. So they pledged their green paddy in the
 field to the local money men, usually rice millers, as a mortgage in
 return for a sum of money at a very deep discount, often up to 50 per
 cent of the actual value of the harvest.

 Recently the term `tok khiew' has acquired a new sinister meaning.
 Instead of pledging green paddy, farmers pledge their young daughters,
 often 12-13 years old, to the procurers in return for money or other
 material things such as houses or pick-up trucks.

 The young girls may be pledged when they are still in school or as young
 as Prathom 5 (grade 5). When they finish the compulsory Prathom 6, these
 young girls will be sent to serve the flesh market in Bangkok or other
 major provinces, including Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hat Yai and Phuket. They
 have to work as prostitutes in brothels, or any other disguised brothels
 such as short-time hotels, restaurants, tea-houses, massage parlours,
 cocktail lounges, membership clubs, and karaoke bars for a number of
 years to pay off their (parents') debts.

 Recognising that Thailand will never be able to rid itself of the
 problem of prostitution, Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai nevertheless,
 insisted very early in his term that he would like to see the problem of
 child prostitution licked during his administration.

 "I understand that it is near-impossible to get rid of prostitution in
 this country due to several reasons, but at least we can do something
 about child prostitution.

 "My government will never tolerate child prostitution, and those
 government officials who fail to carry out this policy will be harshly
 dealt with," vowed Chuan.

  Interior Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh echoed Chuan's remarks and
 warned police officers to urgently tackle the problems or else face
 disciplinary action.

 Seeing their superiors were serious about the child prostitution
 problem, the police began to crack down on child prostitutes. Those
 prostitutes who did not have ID cards would face arrest, and if they
 were aliens -- usually Burmese or Chinese -- they would face
 deportation.

 In this country, every Thai citizen has to register for a National
 Identity Card when they turn 15. So if a prostitute does not have an ID,
 she is considered a child or an alien. Either way, she can no longer
 work openly as a prostitute.

 Chuan did specify the age of a child prostitute, but the police seem to
 consider 15 as the minimum acceptable age as the National I.D. Card
 bestows the title of `Nai' or "Mr" for males and `Nang Sao' or "Miss"
 for female card-holders. Below the age of 15, a boy is known as `Dek
 Chai' and a girl has the title of `Dek Ying'.

 From a legal standpoint, 13 is considered the minimum age that a child
 can be engaged in sex with a partner if his or her parent consents.
 Eighteen is the minimum age of consent without parental approval.

 So a paedophile (one who is sexually attracted to children) can engage
 in sex with a child prostitute with no punishment if the child is at
 least 13 years old.

 As 15 is the most convenient age for checking the age of child
 prostitutes, police often raid entertainment places and check the ID
 cards of those girls who work there. Police raids were carried out quite
 often when Chuan first made his policy stance and died down as time went
 by.

 The raids began to pick up again when Pol Gen Pratin Santiprabhob was
 appointed acting police director-general in November, and was again
 intensified when the new police restructuring went into force in late
 January. When it seemed to die down, the issue of police kickbacks in

 Chon Buri rekindled the flame and the police began to conduct raids of
 various entertainment places again to check for child prostitutes.

 For the past month, the issue of `tok khiew' began to emerge officially.
 On February 17, there was a meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Social
 Welfare attended by several government agencies and non-governmental
 organisations (NGOs) on the problems of prostitution and the trade of
 human flesh.

 Arthorn Chanthavimol, deputy permanent secretary of Education, revealed
 that after April 15, the traditional Thai New Year, there will be a new
 batch of girls entering the flesh trade as the newcomers will follow the
 senior prostitutes when they visit home.

 Arthorn said that there are about 1,000-1,500 young girls from Chiang
 Rai likely to enter the oldest profession, approximately 1,000 from
 Phayao and some more from other provinces.

 "The ministry has figures as compiled by our teachers that tell us that
 already there are over 2,000 young girls who are already pledged [tok
 khiew]. These young girls are only 13-14 years old. They are completing
 Prathom 6 and some of them were pledged when they were still in Prathom
 5," he said.

 Laddawan Wongsriwong, a woman MP and native of Phayao Province, admitted
 the problem of `tok khiew' is very widespread in the North, including
 Phayao.

 "When a girl was born into a family, there would be a celebration
 because the girl, especially if she is good-looking, will bring wealth
 and prosperity into the family," she said, acknowledging that the
 problem has been going on for a long time.

 "The procurers are getting sophisticated. They usually have an agent
 within a village who will act as a middleman, but more likely the agent
 is a woman who is a former prostitute herself. The agent will approach a
 family with pretty young girls who are still in school. They may even
 offer to build houses or give a pick-up truck as an advance for the very
 pretty ones," she said during a recent TV programme highlighting the
 issue.

 Siriphorn Panyasen, a noted social worker from Lampang, said that the
 problem of `tok khiew' was not easy to solve as senior prostitutes were
 often recruiters and that parents of the young girls enjoy the luxurious
 lives brought on by their children's sex labour.

 "Instead of thinking that it is morally wrong, they [young girls] think
 only of gaining material comforts that their bodies can bring for them
 and their family," she said, adding that girls are taught to obey their
 parents and would be considered a good child if she can repay her
 upbringing.

 Samphan Thongsamak, minister of Education, said that apart from poverty,
 `tok khiew' could be attributed to copycat fashion as young girls saw
 some successful prostitutes coming home with riches.

 "Those who are not successful and/or catch dreaded diseases such as Aids
 would keep quiet," he said while presiding over the ceremony to expand
 educational opportunities in Chiang Rai on Thursday.

 Pol Lt Gen Prasarn Wongyai, commissioner of Police Region 5, revealed
 that the agent would `tok khiew' in the form of personal loan contract
 while girls are still in school. The police could not do anything as the
 loan contract is not illegal.

 Another method is to marry the young girls and then sell them as
 prostitutes in Bangkok, but this method works only once as most rural
 folks are now aware of such a trick, he said.

 However, Pol Lt Gen Prasarn discounted press report that some policemen
 are `tok khiew' agents themselves. "Tell me who and I will punish them
 harshly," he said.

 Asst Prof Napaporn Thavanond from Chulalongkorn University, during the
 TV programme "To the Point" last Monday, said that people should not
 judge those parents who sell their daughters from a high moral ground as
 they did not have much opportunity in their lives.

 "In my research, rural folks now don't love rural ways of life as
 agriculture only brings on mounting debt. For this reason, `tok khiew'
 is understandable if a family wants to have a better material life," she
 said.

 Boonserm Thavornkul, Chart Thai MP from Phichit, blamed the system which
 allowed local moneymen to charge astronomical interest rates which
 forced most farmers into heavy debt, the only way they could get rid of
 these debts was to sell their daughters for prostitution.

 On the same TV panel, Saphasit Khumpraphan of the Children Foundation,
 said that the problem of `tok khiew' cannot be attributed to the supply
 problem alone. Demand should also be considered as the main cause.

 "If there is no demand for child prostitutes, do you think these young
 girls can sell their bodies?" he asked.

 Arthorn Chanthavimol, who was the first to raise the `tok khiew' issue
 officially, said that the NGOs and Chiang Mai University are trying to
 solve the `tok khiew' problem by giving scholarships to young girls to
 continue their secondary education for three more years. The amount is
 3,000 baht per head. The target is 1,000 potential young prostitutes.

 Yet he conceded this amount was not enough. "10,000 baht is more
 realistic. I think the government should invest by helping these 2,000
 young girls at the tune of only 20 million baht a year, which will be
 cheaper than paying for Aids treatment in the future."

 MP Laddawan agreed that more scholarships are needed for young girls'
 families. But they should be supplemented by occupational training.
 "I have helped set up women's sewing cooperatives in Phayao. Young girls
 will be trained to make clothes, and we try to find orders for regular
 employment," she said.

 However, she conceded that her job was not easy.

 "When I went door to door to explain the evils of `tok khiew' I was
 often met with a hostile reception from certain families who are getting
 rich from selling their daughters.

 "I was even threatened by these families that they would not vote for me
 during the next election as they thought that I caused them to lose
 face," said the MP who garnered the largest vote in the province.

 "But I am ready to lose a few thousand votes as I don't want my province
 to be known as the supplier of young girls for child prostitution," she
 said, adding that more and more families are beginning to understand her
 sincerity in trying to help them.

 MP Boonserm said the Government should help get rid of farmers' debts
 and provide them with low-interest loans.

 He also urged the government set up more training centres and industrial
 estates in the provinces.

 Saphasit said the solution must begin with the patrons.

 He advocated allowing guest workers from Burma to bring their wives
 along so that they do not have to rely on prostitutes. For foreign
 tourists, the TAT should make sure that no travel agents supply any
 details on prostitution to their customers.

 Saphasit reserved the harshest criticism for the lifestyles of Thai men
 who frequent brothels -- either directly or disguised as entertainment
 places such as cafes, membership clubs, or karaoke bars.

 "We should inculcate the young men with an attitude of 'the New
 Generation Won't Patronise Prostitutes'. Support groups should be
 created in universities to change the attitude of having sex with
 prostitutes as part of an initiation rite.

 
 "For the attitude change to be successful, `Phu Yai' [elders] must set
 an example, especially senior government officials," he said.

 Asst Prof Naphaphorn said `tok khiew' exists because of the network. The
 only way to break up the network is to get rid of the agent.

 "Even in schools, some students themselves act as agents, supplying
 young girls to clients who are waiting in hotels. The young girls are
 not professional but want pocket money to have fun in pubs and dance
 halls.

 "If there are no agents, they could not become prostitutes as they don't
 know the route, however much they are willing," she said.
 
 Naphaphorn agreed with social pressure measures.

 "We should start condemning those who frequent child prostitutes,
 starting with friends or close associates," she said.

 Naphaphorn also advocated creating jobs in rural areas and expanding
 educational opportunities three more years.

 Minister Samphan believes in extending education as one of the
 preventive measures. While in Chiang Rai on Thursday, he requested the
 cooperation of respected monks in urging parents to continue their
 children's' education three more years.

 He also urged the police to take strong measures against `tok khiew'
 agents who are well-known locally.

 Samphan also urged monks to stop praising young prostitutes when they
 return home temporarily to make `khatin' (annual) merits, as this
 continuing praise sets a bad example.

 The minister even proposed bringing parents of potential `tok khiew' to
 come to Bangkok to witness with their own eyes the real conditions in
 brothels, tea houses and bars.

 Saphasit of the Children Foundation said that the problem of `tok khiew'
 was not easy to solve as long as the tradition of selling daughters
 continues.

 "It's no use rescuing the girls and bailing them out if their mothers
 continue to sell them back to the procurers," he said sadly.


The World Sex Guide at http://www.paranoia.com. (domain deactivated as of 4/2000)
(C) 1994-97 by Atta & M. Last update: 1997/04/21.
Permission is granted to freely copy, modify, and distribute this document in whole or in part, provided that it is not done for profit and that this entire copyright notice remains attached.

 

 

LEGISLATION


 

THAILAND

Legislation against child sex tourism

In April 1996, the Royal Thai Government of Thailand passed stringent anti-prostitution laws with the most severe penalties reserved for those involved in child prostitution. Now customers, procurers, brothel owners, those who force children into prostitution and even parents, face long prison sentences as well as large fines. The penalties under Thailand's new Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act are as follows:

1. Customers 2-6 years jail if prostitutes are under 15 years old

0-3 years jail if prostitutes are between 15 and 18 years old

2. Procurers 1-10 years jail if prostitutes are over 18 years old
5-15 years jail if prostitutes are between 15 and 18 years old 10-20 years jail if prostitutes are under 15 years old
3. Venue Owners 0-15 years jail if prostitutes are over 18 years old
5-15 years jail if prostitutes are between 15 and 18
years old 10-20 years jail if prostitutes are under 15 years old
4. Parents 4-20 years jail if prostitutes are under 18 years old
5. Those who force or torture others into prostitution 1-20 years jail
Life sentence if prostitutes are seriously injured
Death penalty if prostitutes are killed

 

Chapter Three: Migrant Children in Prostitution in Thailand

The definition of children in prostitution is "female or male children who provide sexual service with or without remuneration."

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of Thailand

Children in prostitution is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 34:

States parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
1.The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
2.The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
3.The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

Thailand recently passed a law directed at solving the problem of child sex work; namely, The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of 1996.

Section 8. A person who engages in sexual acts or performs other acts for the sexual satisfaction of himself or another person who is aged over fifteen years but not yet eighteen years of age, in a commercial sex establishment, whether with consent of that person or not, shall be penalized with a term of imprisonment from one year to three years and a fine from twenty thousand baht to sixty thousand baht. If the offense under paragraph one is against a child of not more than fifteen years, he shall be penalized with a term of imprisonment from two years to six years and a fine from forty thousand baht to one hundred and twenty thousand baht. 

Section 11. Whoever is the owner of a commercial sex establishment, the manager of a commercial sex establishment, or the organizer of commercial sex activities shall be penalized with a term of imprisonment from five years to fifteen years and a fine from one hundred thousand baht to three hundred thousand baht. If the commercial sex activities or commercial sex establishment under paragraph one involves or employs a child of not more than fifteen year for the purpose of commercial sex, the term of imprisonment is from ten years to twenty years and the fine from two hundred thousand baht to four hundred thousand baht.

[Note: this is an unofficial translation of the Act]

The problem of children in prostitution in Thailand is undeniable, though there is still debate as to the number of people involved and its magnitude. The Thai government has been concerned about this problem for some period of time, especially during Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai's administration from 1992-1995. During that period, the government announced that it would eliminate children in prostitution . Nevertheless, as of mid-1997,
child sex workers under the age of 18 still practice their trade in Thailand. They are not only Thai children but other nationalities as well. The non-Thai child sex workers come from countries neighboring Thailand or are children who live in Thailand without Thai nationality.

The presence of migrant children in the sexual trade received great attention after Thai police officials, in coordination with non-governmental organizations, raided a brothel in 1991 and found 15 Burmese highland children, as well as four Chinese children who had previously escaped from another brothel. In the same year, there were 117 migrant children rescued from brothels. These non-governmental organizations continue to find and rescue migrant child sex workers.

The information in this report regarding migrant children in prostitution comes from academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and international human rights organizations.  According to the information available, there were not many child sex workers in 1996, even though in 1993, 167 migrant children were rescued from the sex trade by just one of the non-governmental organizations. This gives the impression that the number of migrant child sex workers is decreasing. However, what has changed is the development of more complex methods for entering the sex trade. Having sex with young sex workers is
still popular and is on the rise due to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Many men believe that sleeping with young children, especially females, puts these men at less risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. Based on these observations, the number of children in the sex trade should not have decreased. In addition, when child sex workers are arrested by Thai officials, they tend to give false information about their ages, saying that they are older than they actually are. They do this to avoid being found guilty under Thai laws designed to penalize the owners and customers of commercial sex establishments which employ underage children. Researchers at Mahidol University have pointed out that the children who give information that they are 18 years old actually look much younger, as young as 14-15 years old.

The Situation of Migrant Children in Prostitution in Thailand

The following analysis is drawn from 14 documents and 2 interviews according to reference documents. From the available information, the situation of the migrant children in the sex trade is as follows:

Nationality/Ethnicity: there are migrant child sex workers of many nationalities such as Burmese (including minorities in Myanmar such as the Tai Yai, Leu, Akha, and Mon), Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Lao, Vietnamese and some highland children who live in border areas but do not have Thai nationality. Also, there were some children of South Asian ethnicity who were born or raised in Thailand. The largest number of migrant children in prostitution are Burmese. The second largest group consists of Chinese and highland people of Chinese ethnicity.  Ages: the youngest child rescued by a non-governmental organization from a commercial sex establishment was a 12 year-old Chinese national who said that she met other children age 12-16 of various ethnic origins in her work place. According researchers at Mahidol University, the youngest child sex workers found were aged 16 and of Chinese and Indian ethnic background. Most of these children had been in the sex trade for one to three years and therefore, they must have become sex workers at the ages of 10-12 [sic].

Means of Entering Thailand

There were 3 means of entering Thailand for migrants:

1.They came in through the persuasion of agents. These agents usually worked as part of a network in cooperation with agents of the same nationality as the children, other foreign agents or Thai agents.
2.They came in by themselves. Most of these children had no intention of coming to work in the sex trade but due to circumstances beyond their control or their will, they ended up as sex workers. A few came in with the intention of becoming sex workers without knowing what the real situation was inside Thailand.
3.They came in with their families to sell their labor or to do others jobs without intending to enter the sex trade.

The children who were persuaded by agents to come to work in Thailand, without knowing the working condition beforehand, had to pay agents' fees that included the transportation costs. Many of them were sold to the owner of sexual service establishments by the agents or the people who accompanied them into Thailand. The selling prices varied, with a Chinese child fetching 10,000-20,000 baht and a Burmese child fetching 10,000-25,000 baht. The amount of money that the business owner paid then became a debt that the children were obligated to pay off later to the business owner.



There are also reports from a non-governmental organization that Bangladeshi children who sold small items in the streets in Bangkok became sex workers at the age of 13-14.

Work Locations

Commercial sex establishments which employ migrant children are of 2 types. First, there are direct commercial sex establishments (brothels, restaurant brothels, teahouses, and hotels). [editor's note: the term "direct" implies that selling sexual services is the establishment's primary purpose and that rooms for having sex are located on the premises] Second, there are indirect commercial sex establishments such as cafes and karaoke bars. Commercial sex establishments which employ migrant children are located in border provinces, near the border, in big cities that attract tourists, and in Bangkok.


There are various reasons to believe that the number of migrant child sex workers is greater than it initially appears. Some owners have switched from the provision of direct sexual services to indirect sexual services in establishments such as karaoke bars and cafes. Children are being lured into the sex trade by indirect force or because of the children's own necessity. It is also difficult to prove the true nationalities and ages of the children
since they do not want to incriminate themselves with law enforcement officials.

Even from the limited information available, it is still clear that there are many migrant children in the sex trade. They entered the business both voluntarily and involuntarily. They were pushed into the trade by economic and social factors, including their families, agents, and the owners of commercial sex establishments. They have a poor quality of life and poor working conditions. They are overworked at risk of contracting diseases. They have
no proper medical knowledge and no job benefits except for housing. The people around them threaten or force them to work. They also face the problem of being rejected by their local communities when they return home because of the existing social and moral values against their activities.

Indicators of Migrant Children in Prostitution

According to the above analysis, it is possible to designate the following indicators as measures of the difficult circumstances faced by the children in the sex trade.

Ages: there were children age 12-16 in the sex trade, a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Thai law. To solve this problem will require excluding children of all nationalities from the sex trade.  Gender: there are no official reports of male child migrants being sex workers. However, there is evidence for this from interviews with migrant children and occasional media reports.  Risks of contracting disease and pregnancy: the children had a high probability of contracting venereal disease and HIV. No one provided them with information about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. They rarely used condoms and some children had to provide sexual service to customers who refused to use condoms. Some children received regular health checks but most of them did not receive any such health benefits and had to pay for health care at private clinics. According to reports from
organizations providing assistance to migrant children, there were children infected with HIV from the sex trade who also became pregnant.
Income: even though the sex trade is quite profitable, some child sex workers did not receive any money. Some children only received small per diems and a few children received a little money deducted from each customer fee, about 100-200 baht.
Force, intimidation, abuse. The children endured both direct and indirect force, intimidation and abuse from the owners, agents, and others. They suffered these acts while being brought into the sex trade and after they had already started working in the trade.

The number of migrant child sex workers is not enormous but this does not mean that the number of the children entering the sex trade is decreasing. On the contrary, there are many reasons to worry that the number of migrant children coming into the trade is increasing since the number of commercial sex establishments is not on the decline. In addition, there is an increasing number of new indirect commercial sex establishments.  
At some of Thailand's commercial sex establishments, the majority of the workers are female migrants. The efforts of various organizations in Thailand directed at preventing Thai children from entering into the sex trade have made it more difficult to lure or force these children into the trade. Even though there are still some Thai children who become sex workers, the trend seems to be more towards adults entering into the sex trade. Yet
compared with Thai children, it is easier to force or lure children from foreign countries into the sex trade because migrant children do not know the reality of the situation they will face. To prevent migrant children from coming into Thailand might be a difficult task, particularly if the push factors in the migrant children's home countries still remain.

Children in prostitution, no matter of what the nationality of the child, is a clear violation of Convention on the Rights of the Child and Thai law. It is especially against the moral sense of people to bring children into this business to be sexually abused since these children are too young to make informed decisions as to their way of life. To engage in commercial sex with children of any nationality is a severe crime that should not be allowed in any country.

The Brothel

Although brothels are illegal in Thailand, they continue to flourish. Brothels vary from seven or eight girls in the back of a noodle shop to a multi-story building with over a hundred workers. Brothel owners use a combination of threats, force, debt bondage and illegal confinement to control the women and girls, force them to work in deplorable conditions, and eliminate any possibility of negotiation or escape. Those women and girls seeking to flee legitimately fear capture and punishment by the owners or agents, arrest for illegal immigration or prostitution, or abduction and resale to another brothel owner.

Despite international legal prohibitions against debt bondage, every Burmese woman and girl we interviewed reported this abuse. For most of the interviewees, their debt appeared to consist of the initial amount their families or companions received from the agents, plus transport, protection money or payoffs to police and other officials, and any advances provided for clothing or other personal items. The money given by the agent typically was doubled by the brothel owner to include "interest." Many of those interviewed had no idea how much money was exchanged and as a consequence had no idea how much they owed. In addition, some women never knew how much theyearned, how much they were supposed to earn, or what were the terms for repayment of the debt.

"Tar Tar" knew that the going rate in her brothel in Bangkok was 110 baht (US$4.40) per hour. She was told by the other women in the brothel that her share was 30 percent, or thirty-six baht, plus any tips. "Tar Tar" figured of the thirty-six baht, half went toward payment of her original cash advance, which was 10,000 baht (US$400, doubled to include interest), and half was ostensibly for rent and food, so "Tar Tar" was never actually able to keep any of it. The owner gave her and the other workers thirty baht a day to buy food, but this amount also was deducted from her earnings. She assumed that she and the owner would settle the accounts at the end of the year.

Some of the women had a vague understanding that they would have to work for a specific length of time to pay off the debt. The women and girls were never told the terms of their debts, which differed for every worker. Further, no consistent share of the customers' payments accrued to the workers within a brothel; often, they were permitted to keep only the tips. They simply waited to be told that their debts were paid and hoped they would have extra money saved from tips to pay for their transportation home. The Burmese women and girls we interviewed were determined to pay off their debts as quickly as possible, knowing it was the only way to get home.

"Yin Yin" was told by the brothel owner that she could go home after 1,000 clients. Most of her clients were police, soldiers, border patrol and other men in uniform as the brothel was located in Borai (along the Thai-Cambodian border). "Yin Yin" worked hard and served 1,000 clients in three months. She saved about 3,000 baht (US$140) in tips. Then the agent told her that her mother had taken another 5,000 baht (US$200) from the agent. As a result, "Yin Yin" believed that she was in debt again, even though she had no  way of knowing whether her mother really did take more money, and no idea what to do if the owner was lying. The owner then transferred her to another brothel where she had to work for
another six to seven months before she was arrested.

The debt bondage of the Burmese women and girls is enforced by their near-total confinement to the brothel premises. According to sources interviewed in Bangkok and Chiangmai, Burmese women and girls were not allowed to leave the brothel or its immediate surroundings without escorts. The brothel owner often reminded the women and girls of the extent of his network and the support of the police who could trace the women if they left before their debts were paid. With few exceptions, the Burmese were unable to communicate with anyone outside of the brothel and its clients. In manycases, telephone and mail communication were banned by the brothel owners. For example, "Kyi Kyi," who
worked in the Old Victoria brothel in Ranong for three years, said she was beaten whenever she tried to listen to the BBC or send letters through clients.

The primary concern of every Burmese woman and girl we interviewed was to avoid arrest, detention and deportation as an illegal immigrant. Those interviewed claimed their fears were constantly exploited by the brothel owners, agents and pimps. They were told of the terrible
conditions in the Thai immigration jails, abuse during deportations, and frequent arrests by Burmese officials upon return to Burma. The Burmese women and girls believed that only the owner and his network, which included the police, could get them home safely. It should be
noted that unlike brothel owners in Bangkok who played on the women's and girls' fears to keep them under control, brothel owners in Ranong reportedly used armed force and other instruments of physical control.

This combination of debt bondage and illegal confinement renders the employment of the Burmese women and girls tantamount to forced labor, which is prohibited under international law and the Thai Constitution.32

In large measure, the brothel owners profit from the repeated rape and sexual assault of the Burmese women and girls, sometimes over long periods of time. Because refusal to service clients often results in beatings, warnings about punishment for defaulting on the debt, or threats of arrest as illegal immigrants, the women cannot be considered willing participants in the sexual intercourse that occurs within the brothels. Yet, Thai legal prohibitions against rape and sexual assault have been rarely, if ever, enforced by the Thai government against the attacks that take place within the brothels.33

Many of the Burmese women and girls talked at great length about losing their virginity by rape in the brothels. Those who had been in a brothel for years still spoke in detail about their first days there, how they tried to resist, the force used against them, how much it hurt, and how they could not stop crying.

"Myo Myo" had been in the brothel for five days when she had to take her first client, a Thai who paid 1,500 baht (US$60) for her virginity. She tried to escape, but the client slapped her and held her back. She finally ran out of the room. Two pimps and the owner came and caught her. All three beat her. Another Burmese there told her to be quiet and try to do as she was told so she did not get killed. After that the owner beat "Myo Myo" often, and she said she had to agree to everything.

For girls fifteen years old or younger, the sexual intercourse they experience in the brothels always constitutes statutory rape under Thai law, and clients should be held accountable.34 Brothel owners also are liable under the penal code for having assisted or facilitated the commission of this offense and should be punished for two-thirds of the penalty for statutory rape.35 In practice, however, the government's crackdown on child prostitution has not resulted in clients or brothel owners being prosecuted and punished for statutory rape.

The repeated threat or use of force by brothel owners to compel the women and girls to have sex with the clients not only renders them in some instances accomplices to rape or statutory rape, but in every single case constitutes a clear violation of the penal law prohibiting procurement for the purposes of prostitution. This law not only penalizes the initial act of procurement, with or without force, but also punishes such procurement "to service the wanton desires of another . . . irrespective of whether or not a number of such acts have been committed on different occasions."36

Nearly every Burmese women and girl interviewed had to work between ten and fourteen hours a day, with only a few days off each month during menstruation. Some interviewees explained that they could get time off only if they were very sick or sore, and they only dared to do so if absolutely necessary. Those interviewed had an average of ten clients a day (some with as many as twenty on weekends) with no power to negotiate who their clients were or what they did with them. The women and girls could also be hired out for the entire day or night if the client left a deposit and/or identification. They talked of feeling vulnerable and frightened when leaving the brothel with a client. However, because of the owner's fear that his girls could be stolen and sold elsewhere, he was usually careful about which clients he allowed to take the women or girls out of the brothel. Often it was only police officers and other law enforcement officials who were accorded this privilege.

Provision of health care in the brothels is sporadic at best, and in most cases nonexistent. In six of the nineteen different brothels where women we interviewed had worked, they reported routine contact with health care providers, but primarily this was to provide birth control and test for STDs,including AIDS. Most brothels had basic medications and creams available for their employees, frequently for a price. Serious illnesses usually went untreated.

All of the women and girls we interviewed were provided contraceptives by the brothel owners; it was clearly in the owners' interest to ensure that their workers did not get pregnant. The women and girls themselves appeared to have no choice of which contraceptive they would be given, nor did they understand how the contraceptives worked. None of the women and girls we interviewed had become pregnant.37

Many were more likely to contract HIV than to become pregnant. Nineteen of the thirty women and girls we interviewed had been tested for HIV. Of these, fourteen were found to be HIV positive. Since most, if not all, of the women and girls had come to Thailand as virgins, they were most likely infected by their clients.

Public health officials have distributed condoms to brothels throughout Thailand, usually free of charge. The women and girls interviewed said that condoms were often given to the client, with their price included in the rate. None reported any insistence by the brothel owners on
condom use; the choice was entirely up to the client. The women and girls themselves did not know about AIDS or the benefits of condom use while in the brothel. Those interviewed also said that using condoms was often too painful because of the additional friction condoms caused, especially when they had to service a minimum of seven or eight men a night. The Thai Penal Code provides that whosoever by negligence "causes bodily or mental harm to another person shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one month or 1,000 baht or both."38 Brothel owners are in a position to prevent the "mental and bodily harm" from both the forced prostitution and the resulting exposure of trafficking victims to the AIDS virus, and they should be held criminally negligent for failing to do so.

32 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, Section 31, December 22, 1978.

33 Thai Penal Code, Section 276.

34 Ibid., Section 277.

35 Ibid., Section 86.

36 Ibid., Sections 282-283.

37 However, this appeared to be less true in Ranong. In July 1993 a highly publicized raid in Ranong led to the "rescue" of 148
Burmese women and girls. Twenty of them were found to be pregnant.

38 Thai Penal Code, Section 390.

Added 04-06-02:
On Thu, 27 Sep 2001 13:55:34 -0700, Penny-Remove \"SPMMX \"from e-mail
address to reply <penny_muiSPMMX@yahoo.com> wrote:
>There is no "official" legal age of consent in TH.
>See http://www.ageofconsent.com
>Only underage PROSTITUTION is illegal

The information at ageofconsent.com is plain wrong. Of course Thailand has laws that regulate the minimum age for ordinary sex (as well as
the more recent law stating a minimum age for prostitution). There is a number of people, both Thais and foreigners, who can confirm this
from their prison cells.  Vagabond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(http://www.world-tourism.org/sextouri/legislat.htm)

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