Child prostitution has been very common throughout Thailand since the Vietnam War and doesn’t seem to be dwindling. While there are no exact numbers of how many underage children are acting as prostitutes, numbers have been estimated to be as low as 12,000 to somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. While there are strict laws in Thailand against child prostitution, these laws are not regularly or harshly enforced and lead to many loopholes being created by the children themselves or the agents of the children acting as prostitutes.
So, just what makes these young children turn to selling their bodies? The number one factor is poverty caused by a highly unequal distribution of wealth throughout Thailand. Children from poverty stricken families are often pulled from school at a very young age and are forced to work to help the family survive.
It just so happens that in Thailand the sex industry is thriving enough to make the country one of the top sex tourism locations for prostitution in the world. There is money to be made by being a prostitute in Thailand, and unfortunately far too many children are finding this out and participating in this shameful industry to help their family survive.
A large factor in why prostitution is largely allowed to continue in Thailand is based on tradition, surprisingly enough. According to the traditional customs in Thailand, the first duty of a young girl is to support her family in any way she can. For a young girl to be a prostitute to earn money to feed her family is seen by many as appropriate.
Many parents even go as far as selling their children or renting them out to sex agencies for either a one-time payment or regular payments while the girl works for the agency. Other young children enter the world of prostitution on their own or at the encouragement of a young friend who is involved and may even be ashamed to tell their family about what they are doing and instead claim to have a different type of job.
One this is for certain, though. Young children who are just beginning to develop ideas of norms of social relationships should not be engaging in acts of prostitution. This is going to harm them emotionally and cause them to lead abnormal lives when it comes to their romantic or intimate relationships with others. Aside from the mental hardships prostitution can cause to a young person, there may be irreversible physical harm such as the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, injuries, or pregnancies.
In the past few years more light has been shed onto this problem in Thailand and the world is now aware of the situation in Thailand with child prostitution. However, as long as there is such a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor living in Thailand, the situation may continue to get worse rather than better.
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