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Charlotte Gray and Zia Hossain. The sex industry consists of buying and selling sex for monetary compensation. In Thailand, it is highly complex. While it is technically illegal, it is widely practiced and accepted. One aspect of the sex industry, sex tourism—in which tourists travel to destinations with the intended purpose of paying for sex—has become very popular in Thailand.
With such a lucrative industry, it begs the question of where and why these women are entering the profession. To get a first-hand account of a sex worker, nine students enrolled in the Community Public Health program interviewed a woman named Poe at a hotel in Khon Kaen, Thailand. As we walked to the room of the interview, pictures of naked men and women lined the walls.
We were unsure of what to expect, but came to find that Poe was very open to discussing her profession. She is a year-old woman from Kalasin, a province neighboring Khon Kaen. For the past two years, she has been a fortuneteller at a local bus station in Khon Kaen during the day. She primarily reads tarot cards and makes around baht per session. At night, she is a sex worker. She works independently and primarily at a Khon Kaen bus station and livestock markets held in various provinces. She has been a sex worker for seven years.
Her rates vary based upon service and time allotted. Generally services range from to baht, while a night spent together will cost about baht. This is a substantial increase from the salary her fortunetelling occupation provides. Previous to her work as a sex worker and a fortuneteller, she was a rice farmer. This occupation did not provide an adequate salary to support herself and her family.
Poe has four children—two boys and two girls—and is divorced. Her ex-husband was abusive and left her to raise their four children on her own with no financial support. Her two daughters and one of her sons are currently working in the city. Her other son is battling a drug addiction and requires her constant support, financially and emotionally.