No country on earth is more notorious for the commercial sex industry than Thailand, and by association, its capital city, Bangkok. Commercial sex tourism was for all intents and purposes invented here. What began as a popular R&R location for American G.I.’s on leave during the Vietnam war has ballooned into the most famous of all sex-tourism destinations, so much so that emerging locations (Chisinau, and Amsterdam to name two) are referred to as the “Next Bangkok” or the “Bangkok of the West.”
You’d recognize a photo from Bangkok almost instantly: prostituted Thai-girls in short skirts and spike heels striding down a traffic-choked street lined with dingy shops and stalls, the whole scene tinted by neon lights. Prostitution is readily accessible in Bangkok. But prostitution is illegal in Thailand. So is the commercial sex trade. Such is the nature of the contradiction and compromise that a sex-driven economy necessitates. Police forces are more than complicit: they are clients in the industry, and at times assist the trade. And while prostituted women in Bangkok’s high end massage parlors and western-style bars and clubs may negotiate their own fees, they are far from free.
To understand the multi-tiered sex industry in Bangkok, you must grasp the pushing and pulling powers of rapid industrialization, over population, dire poverty, and familial rights. A young girl in a Thai village (in the hills of the North East, for example) has insurmountable forces dragging her to Bangkok: she is one of the thousands of expendable people in a country where most of the residents are under 15 years old; she is living in a remote location where the poor are still getting poorer, and where there are no opportunities for education or vocational training of any kind; and her culture places upon her all of the financial burden of supporting her family. The only option for a young girl in these circumstances is to go to Bangkok, sell her body to the western men who come for sex-tourism, and send meager proceeds back to her family after her pimp or club owner collects the lion’s share. As a result, prostituted women in Bangkok might say that they chose their lifestyle, but few of them can offer an alternative if pressed. They are slaves by any other name.
Of course, Thai women are not the only women exploited in Bangkok. Women from nearby Burma (perhaps political refugees) or distant Nigeria (sold by tribal Voodoo rights) fill the dark alleys of Bangkok’s out-of-the-way clubs and brothels. The commercialized streets are for western tourists, but the back alleys cater to locals by offering sex for only a few dollars. Here, slaves from around the world are coerced into servicing the thousands of day-laborers that cannot afford to pay the high prices of the neon-lit streets. Countless lost women and children suffer silent agonies at the hands of industrialization: every new building project that breaks ground supplies a market of sex-hungry workers that will pay for cheap sex.
NightLight Ministries www.nightlightbangkok.com
NightLight ministries is one of the most radical ministries in the earth. Not only does NightLight provide women with physical/mental/spiritual deliverance, but the ministry also gives them trade skills and a vocation so that they do not slip back into the clutches of sex-slavery.
- Pray for Revival in Bangkok, that the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ would swiftly run and mightily prevail city-wide.
- Pray for a radical conversion of the police forces to begin enforcing the laws that outlaw prostitution.
- Pray that God would raise up gospel-business (like NightLight) that would contribute to solving the problem of sex-slavery on multiple levels.