Miss Bangkok: A Voice from Bangkok
When most people think of Thailand they picture one of two starkly different images. The first is an image of a n idyllic Buddhist country, filled with beautiful temples and stunning scenery; the image that brings both pride and tourists to Thailand in droves.
The second image is the one painted in Bua BoonMee’s Miss Bangkok. A poorly hidden image of deprivation, indecency, and prostitution drenched with the shame of a nation.
Many of the estimated 2 million women who work in Thailand’s booming sex industry are forced into a life of prostitution due to poverty and a lack of education, just as Bua Boonmee discusses in her memoir. Prostitution is the most profitable employment that an uneducated girl in Thailand can enter, and is often the only way that she may be able to care for family members dependent on her. However, women are not the only people who succumb to one of Thailand’s worst kept secrets. An estimated 20,000 adult males and 800,000 children under the age of 18 are involved in the sex trade in some way or another.
Thai tourism, although encouraging the image of Buddhist attractions and culture, has long been dependant on the chance and circumstances that lead poverty stricken Thai women to leave their work in the fields and move to the city in hopes of earning more money.
Although the majority of Thai prostitutes find their cliental amongst Thai men, foreign tourists contribute significantly to the sex industry in Thailand. Approximately 10 million people travel to Thailand each year, a vast majority of which are men who specifically go to Thailand for the sex industry. A large proportion of Thailand’s revenue comes from tourism, billions of which is spent on sex tourism, even though prostitution has been illegal in Thailand since 1960. Therefore, the moral or legal inclination to interfere with the sexual exploitation of the poor and vulnerable is often outweighed by capitalist greed.
Perhaps this is all set to change however, as July 2016 saw Thai minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattananavrangkul, pledge to clamp down on and bring an end to the country’s sex industry. Insistent on the validity of Thailand’s beautiful culture being at the root of tourist attraction to the country, she proclaimed a desire for quality tourism.
If you are looking for a personal insight into the life saturated in crime, exploitation, and a specific red light then look no further than Miss Bangkok: Memoirs of a Thai Prostitute. Currently at the special price of just £0.99 for Kindle users on Amazon.