Prostitutes: The short answer to this question is of course “money”. we believe that Thai culture itself is in part to blame for the flourishing trade in prostitution in Thailand; Thai women don’t enjoy selling themselves more than any other race of women. Let’s take a look at my theory.
A lot of foreigners come to Thailand and gain a false impression of Thai ladies. I have often spoken to foreigners that think Thai ladies are promiscuous, or easy. Outside of the beer bars, go-go clubs and red light districts, this could not be further from the truth. Allow me to elaborate…
Thai culture is very reserved. Children are taught not to ask questions, not to do things which will cause the family to lose face. This is carried through into relationships. It is generally not accepted for an unmarried Thai couple to live together. Until they have legitimized the relationship through marriage it is definitely not acceptable for a Thai couple to have sex.
Most people, be they Asian, white, black or green, have relationships through their adolescence. And when you’re 18 or 19, you’re convinced that you love this person, and that they’re the one. Back in Western countries, these romances would play out typically and fizzle away over time, without the pressure of marriage; and the financial burden that carries.
In Thailand it is not really possible for two young people to have a meaningful relationship without marriage. How well can you really know someone without living together? The pressures of keeping face mean there is no choice but to get married or break off their romance.
Now we have a young Thai couple, head over heels in love, that have got married. After the dowry is paid and shown off to the neighborhood, after the expensive ceremony, they can move in together and make a life. Usually the groom’s family will have paid a significant amount of money for the dowry (or sin sod), as well as for the ceremony itself. There will be pressure on both the bride and the groom to continue this relationship. If the relationship ends quickly they will both lose face, and perish the thought of that happening.
We believe that in a lot of cases it is only after the couple have lived together for a period of time that they realize it isn’t working. Until they are married they aren’t granted this opportunity and quickly the happy young couples tend to find themselves expecting children.
Very often these young romances break off. By this stage the couple may have been married for a handful of years. The children from the marriage traditionally go to the ladies’ grandparents, if they weren’t there already, for them to be looked after while the couple works.
Child support payments and alimony are uncommon in Thailand. Many times the wife (or ex-wife) will refuse money as child support, for the sake of not wanting to lose face or appear dependent on her ex-husband.
We believe that the reserved, traditional Thai culture creates an environment that is a conveyer belt for single mothers with no financial support. It leaves women with children that they need to support, as well as supporting their parents and themselves. As I have previously written, it is hard to support an entire family of people on the Thai minimum wage of 300 baht per day. With no education and no real prospects, many women in Thailand turn to prostitution to fill this void.
Not all Thai people’s lives play out like this, all situations are different, and many relationships are not conventional. Next time you’re in Thailand, ask the ladies you meet if they have children. Some will lie depending on what they want from you. If you start to become involved with a Thai lady, ask her, how many mouths is she feeding? This will give you an idea about her financial state.