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Bar Girls: Victims Or Not?


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Bar girls: victims or not?


There are two schools of thoughts when it comes to bar girls. One says they are victims of a male-dominated society who need saving. The other says most girls enter their jobs willingly and prefer this lifestyle to one in rural Thailand.


Interestingly, the latter view has been given strong support by something called the Empower Foundation. It says the lives of working girls has improved in recent years and that being ‘rescued’ actually creates more problems than it solves.


In a report in The Nation, Empower director Chantawipa Apisuk commented on a new report namedâ€Hit & Run: Sex Workers’ Research on Anti-trafficking in Thailandâ€, and said charities have gone ‘too far’ in enforcing anti-prostitution laws.


Empower began in 1985 to safeguard working girls’ rights. Around 20,000 girls use Empower’s contact points in 11 provinces in the North, Northeast and Central region.


Chantawipa said laws that try and stop people trafficking had had a serious adverse effect. The report talked to more than 200 working girls over a year, some of whom worked in Laos and Burma.


Those who transport people are seen by the girls as ‘helpful’ and don’t overcharge, the report claimed.


One worker, Kiaw from Laos, asked for understanding among the Thai public and authorities. “We aren’t criminals. We’re just honest people trying to build better lives,†she said.


Ironically, the anti-trafficking laws are seen as unhelpful by the prostitutes.


One worker, called Nok, said: “Before I was arrested I was working happily, had no debt, and was free to move around the city. Now I’m in debt, I’m scared most of the time, and it’s not safe to move around. How can they call this ‘help’?â€


Once “rescued†and detained, foreign workers are deported while Thais have to do vocational training.


It’s an interesting theory and not one that is popular among many charities. Of course, most bar girls do come to Pattaya willingly. Once they arrive it may not quite have the lifestyle they thought they’d have, of course, but they’re not acting under duress. We imagine charities may argue that girls who are helped may have less money in the short-term, but that their long-term prospects are improved.


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Vocational training may well be beneficial in the long term, but most of the gals don't see it as such when they are still young and can make much more money. I know 3 expats who paid for their favourite BG to study either hairdressing or dressmaking. The girls all tried it for a while, but quit because they earned far less than before and had to do real work.


One told me she gave it a try for a year and a half. She was lucky to end up 3,000 baht ahead at the end of each money, whilst before she had been making at least 7 times that. It was a no brainer - go back to the bars. She said she appreciated having something to fall back on in her older years, but it turned out she didn't need to. She married a Frenchman in his 70s and moved to France to live with him.

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The media always portrays women working in the " industry " as victims.A while ago in the Uk a special task force was set up to tackle what was claimed was a big problem with women trafficked for sex work.After many months and lots of £ wasted,surprise surprise they found hardly any cases :cheerleader:

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Read an interesting article a while back, not sure where but it painted an entirely different picture regarding working girls. The article wasn't Thai specific, but encompassed prostitutes, strippers/dancers, and coyote types. It was written in a way the girls were seen as the "winners" rather than the ones to be saved, and was very pro-feminist or pro-empowering if that's clear. Basically outlined how smart these girls were to use their bodies/charms etc to convince the dopey men to pay a weeks wages or more to spend a night with them, or get a few lap dances etc. It looked at the west where men at times pay thousands of dollars for a few hours, or 10,000 plus dollars for a night, and also looked at places like Thailand where in local earnings, 2 or 3000 baht for a night equated to 2 weeks wages (+/-) for a nights work, plus the potential to "gain a sponsor", lady drinks, tips etc.



Was quite well written IMO, and demonstrated how with a few brains, and planning the girls could and sometimes do become "millionaires" over time, IF they don't fall down the slippery slope of drugs, bad lending etc. Good on 'em I reckon.

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I know 3 expats who paid for their favourite BG to study either hairdressing or dressmaking. The girls all tried it for a while, but quit because they earned far less than before and had to do real work.


I always see references to "Trink" here, but I have no idea who the guy is - and it's a challenge to find his old stuff via web searches.


I actually just ordered an out of print book on Trink that I found on Amazon, had to buy it used. There's nary a review of it to be found anywhere except for one in Time magazine. I can't remember it verbatim, but the magazine summarized Trinks perception of Bargirls as originally he saw them as victims of society, then something like predators, but the final analysis was that it was women from a range of backgrounds that made a choice to work night life because it was a simple, quick, effective way to make money.


If it was legal in the states you can bet a lot more women would also make that choice (see Heidi Fleiss and her friends, all middle/upper class - did it for the money).

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Ahh, I stand corrected. The book should arrive any day now. You found the time magazine piece and I was a bit off. Interesting that the book was written by a woman (didn't fully pay attention to that either, just glanced at the piece - wouldn't weigh on my decision to buy, but it is worth noting).


"But Trink's view of prostitutes changed, Bliss writes, from sex objects, to victims of society, to women who have chosen an easy but hazardous way to earn an above-average income. In one excerpt cited in the book, Trink describes the women as meretricious, avaricious, mendacious and bone lazy. Never give your heart to a demimondaine: she'll chew it up and spit it out. Nonetheless, Bliss argues that Trink is no misogynist."

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"... meretricious, avaricious, mendacious and bone lazy. Never give your heart to a demimondaine: she'll chew it up and spit it out."


That is a direct quote and a good sample of Trink's writing. He was also known as the master of the dangling participle. :)


In person he is a great guy - he'd do anything for a friend. Just don't ever let him review any book you wrote. His idea of a book review means "slash and burn"! :p





BTW the gal who put together the Trink book did so with no cooperation from him. She dug through Trink's columns over the years and talked to his friends. Did a good job of it too. She was Australian and not long after the book came out did herself in in some sort of lesbian suicide-death pact. :shocked:

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