Calls mount for shift in sex workers' legal status
published : 27 Sep 2021 at 04:30
newspaper section: News
writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan
The recent online broadcast of sexual acts performed by Nong Khai Nao and her boyfriend has renewed calls for sex workers to be recognised by law and protected.
Nong Khai Nao (Miss Bad Egg) and her boyfriend were arrested for having sex and broadcasting the act via OnlyFans, a platform where people can share erotic photos and videos for a fee.
The "sex content creator" saga has reignited debates over traditional values and liberal views of how far sexual activities can go under the law and how the issue should be handled.
Supensri Phungkhoksoong, director of the Social Equality Promotion Foundation, agreed people can do whatever they like with their bodies as long as it does not cause others harm.
However, such freedoms can imperil others. From her experiences rescuing victims of sex abuse, Ms Supensri said many offenders admit they were sexually aroused after watching porn.
The sex depicted online was between consenting adults. But when sexual acts are publicised in exchange for money, people can emulate them. Such acts can also invite sexual crimes where unsuspecting minors fall victim.
Welfare protection for women and children measures are far from strong, she said. There have been frequent reports of girls raped by relatives, students by their teachers and women by men who succumbed to their urges.
Jadet Chaowilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, said the Nong Khai Nao saga showed women had limited choice and employment opportunities.
Sex workers should be legalised so they can pay proper income tax -- chasing and arresting them is not the solution, he said.
Mr Jadet said sex was natural and cannot be suppressed. The question was how to protect sex workers from harassment, threats and exploitation while enabling them to do the job safely and hygienically.
He said police could do little to weed out pornographic materials and clips. Instead, they were bent on nabbing the sex content creators. "It's high time they changed their views and legalised sex workers," he said.
Male-dominated society fails to offer adequate and diverse job opportunities for women. Women always find the glass-ceiling hard to break through, he said.
Surang Janyam, director of Service Workers in Group Foundation (Swing), said the sexually-explicit content which Nong Khai Nao produced was no different to that found in pornographic CDs and video clips.
More young people are likely to create similar sexual content for sale if they are lured by the substantial income on offer, she said.
"Catching these creators won't solve the problem. It's a lack of income that's driving them to produce the content," she said, noting that the poorer people get, the more lively the sex industry becomes.
Ms Surang insisted sex workers should be decriminalised and the Prostitution Suppression Act scrapped.
Mai Chanta, a sex worker and member of the Empower Foundation, said the act outlaws prostitution, allowing unscrupulous authorities to demand bribes from sex workers so they can continue their trade.
"We have zero bargaining power because the law is not on our side. We've tried for 20 years to seek to abolish the act, but to no avail," Ms Mai said.