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The Dark Side of Sex in Bangkok
Thai children exposed to pedophiles and the lives of many women ruined
Tom Pauken II (Pauken)     Print Article 
Published 2006-09-02 10:44 (KST)   
Many Americans see their nation as promoting a sexually permissive society. The entertainment and advertising industries lure customers with images of attractive men and women, and strip clubs abound in American cities. Some religious leaders claim the United States is a moral wasteland. But the U.S. seems puritanical in comparison to Thailand.

Calling Bangkok, Thailand, the "sex capital of the world" would be no exaggeration. The streets are filled with prostitutes looking for business, charging just $25 a night. Some tourists visit to sleep with as many partners as possible. Gay bars and clubs are popular. Pedophiles paying for the services of prostitutes are commonplace. Sex tour operators earn a lucrative income bringing men from the U.S. and Europe to Bangkok.

Yet, Bangkok is not a paradise of pleasure for many of its own people. Thailand is an impoverished nation and women succumb to prostitution because they have no other means to earn a living. Parents in rural villages sell their children, who become sex slaves. Drug addictions keep prostitutes dependent upon their pimps. The dark undercurrent of sexual depravity has destroyed the lives of many Thai women.

John Mark Karr, a pedophile who falsely confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey 10 years ago, was also drawn to Bangkok. After her murder, he traveled around the world working as a teacher. He spent time in Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Days before his arrest, he successfully applied for a job at a school in Thailand. He worked for two schools in Thailand including Bangkok Christian Academy. He had been fired from both previous teaching jobs in Bangkok. His confession occurred by chance. He was arrested on unrelated sex charges. Now, Thailand's government officials want to reform the image of their country.

They must first institute changes in their education system. Schools hire foreign teachers to teach English as a second language (ESL). Only a few academies do extensive background checks on potential employees. Since some schools lack money, they are desperate to hire any foreigner regardless of their qualifications or criminal backgrounds. The owners place short-term profits above the safety of their students.

Jakrapob Penkair, a high-level government official, announced that Thailand currently has lax recruitment procedures; but cabinet ministers will soon meet to discuss whether more regulations are needed.

Frank Moore, teacher and moderator of an expatriate Web site described the prevailing environment:

"The vast majority is here trying to help the kids, but some are here for sex, booze, and drugs...It's obvious to me that more than 80 percent of schools here don't do any background checks."

Moore explained the two types of teachers in Thailand, "Those who arrive specifically to teach on official work permits and others who are short-term visitors on tourist visas."

He noted that short-term visitors pose the greatest threat.

A number of foreign teachers come to Thailand to party, and care little about their teaching jobs. Some of them have even started Web sites that critique Bangkok's nightlife. They rank the quality of whorehouses, offer tips on visiting go-go bars, and hold contests for the search for the best prostitute. Some hold chat forums to discuss their sexual exploits or the pros and cons of different strip clubs.

Sex tour operators have also benefited from Bangkok's debauchery. The Ft. Worth Star Telegram interviewed Gunther Frentz, proprietor of G. F. Tours for more than 18 years, who shuttles men looking for sex in Bangkok at $3,000 for a 10-day trip.

Frentz claimed that when he started G. F. Tours it was not to promote sex. But his business did not take off until he began marketing the "sex trade" for his foreign visitors.

While prostitution is technically illegal in Thailand, the police and brothels maintain a close working relationship. Police demand bribes, kickbacks, and protection money. If the payments are not forthcoming, the police raid those businesses and arrest the owners. Prostitutes are apprehended to provide free sexual services.

Most sex addicts feel at home in Bangkok, and it is difficult to resist the many temptations available all around you. Some people sleep with a different partner every night and husbands who remain faithful to their wives are looked upon as objects of ridicule. Ironically, Thai culture frowns on sexual conversations so hypocrisy becomes the norm. A Thai man who appears straight-laced, spiritual, and family oriented often leads a double life. They are admired because they are not likely to reveal any secrets, so Thai mistresses and prostitutes do not have to worry about confronting angry wives.

Living the life of a sex addict might be enjoyable for some but the consequences can be deadly. Thailand has a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases, prostitutes are exploited, and a few suffer from insanity as their sexual obsessions grab hold of them. Yes, there is a dark side to sex, and it can be found in Bangkok.
This article will appear in the Dallas Blog.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Tom Pauken II

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