THAILAND: Prostitution & divorce: A scourge that serves a good purpose?

Is prostitution good for Thai marriages? Does it save married Thai couples from divorce?

Quick, what is the divorce rate in Thailand? I don’t know off-hand, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s on the rise. Still, based on what I’ve heard, Thailand sounds  like a nightmare for married couples (and unmarried couples for that matter) in many ways, not the least of which is its reputation as the sex capital of Asia, where prostitution is as common as, say, rice fields; only it’s much more profitable. It’s quite literally a billion dollar industry. The sex trade in Thailand rivals the drug trade in, say, Mexico. It is absolutely rampant. While illegal on the books, everyone, both locals and tourists, it seems, engage in some form of trading in sex as a matter of routine, and on a regular basis, in Thailand.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never heard anybody refer to Thailand as the Sex Capital of Asia but based on reports and literature I’ve been reading, it might as well be dubbed just that.

Thailand, land of beautiful women

But it may not be all bad. At least, not for married Thai women.

In the book Disposable People:  New Slavery in the Global Economy Kevin Bales paints a very disturbing portrait of the profligate sex slavery that inhabits the sinews of Thai culture – including its government and citizens both rich and poor. Mr. Bales is an expert on contemporary slavery and is the director of Free the Slaves, an organization headquartered in Washington D.C. He tells a frightening story of how young girls are routinely enslaved in Thailand and are often sold by their parents (for the price of a television set, say!) to sex slave drivers. In fact, Mr. Bales paints a sordid picture of an illicit economy in Thailand that deals in the sexual slavery of women and young girls as young as ten years old. Men, usually Thai themselves, kidnap or contract girls out of their innocent upbringing in rural areas, and force them into a life of prostitution which often ends when they die of AIDS.

It’s pretty grim.

But for purposes of this divorce blog, and the divorce angle I always look for, it seems that the sex industry in Thailand may serve some licit purpose, if you are a married woman trying to hang on to her man. Here is what Bales wrote about Thai wives, their husbands, their marriages, and prostitutes:

For most married women, having their husband go to prostitutes is preferable to other forms of extramarital sex. Most wives accept that men naturally want multiple partners, and prostitutes are seen as less threatening to the stability of the family. Prostitutes require no long term commitment or emotional involvement. When a husband uses a prostitute he is thought to be fulfilling a male role…..Given that sex is for sale everywhere,  and that noncommercial sex threatens the family more gravely, it is little wonder that Thai wives maintain a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy on prostitution. A greater spending power means that their husbands can buy sex at will. Most Thai women are resigned to it, simply hoping that his interest doesn’t shift to a minor wife. Within this context, their husbands’ occasional visits to brothels with the boys are overlooked by wives. Because it is part of a normal outing, most Thai men feel little or no shame in buying sex.

See that? Prostitution may actually help these women avoid divorce! It s not just in Thailand that this type of thing is happening. It is all over the world. There are entire transnational criminal syndicates that trade in sex slavery. In some countries, the slave drivers are the actual government officials bureaucrats and law enforcement officials!
It’s gross. It’s nasty. It’s evil and demonic (no wonder nature is turning on us all and threatening to sink the entire Earth in a fit of global warming rage – to wipe out all these iniquities in the modern GLOBAL Sodom and whatever the other place was!)
But at least, for married women in Thailand, there may be a silver lining. Prostitution may actually save them from divorce (and, possibly, having to work as prostitutes themselves which is what often happens after they lose their breadwinner husbands) but may not save them from the HIV virus which many husbands who frequent prostitutes bring home to their wives. Married women, it is reported, have the fastest growing HIV infection rates in Thailand.
Now. How’s this for irony? Here are the GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE in Thailand:

    Grounds for Divorce in Thailand
    If one party will not agree to a divorce by mutual consent then you need to file with the courts for a divorce. In order to proceed with a divorce in this instance you will need to assert grounds for divorce and make personal appearance in court. Grounds for divorce in Thailand include the following circumstances:

    • Adultery
    • A spouse is guilty of misconduct that inflicts serious shame, insult or injury on their partner and cohabitation is no longer possible
    • A spouse has caused serious harm or torture to the body or mind of their partner, or has seriously insulted their parents
    • A spouse has deserted for longer one year
    • A spouse has disappeared
    • A spouse has failed to provide proper maintenance and support to their partner; cohabitation is no longer possible
    • A spouse suffering from serious mental illness for at least three years
    • A breach of the good behaviour bond
    • A spouse is suffering from a contagious and dangerous disease which is incurable and may cause injury to the other
    • A spouse has a physical handicap and is permanently unable to cohabit as husband and wife. [more]