Recently, after reading more seemingly crazy trafficking stories online milking the emotional angst that comes with the words pedophile and children, I looked more closely into that with this blog in mind. This is my report – –
My graduate degree is in marketing. Although many years have passed since that training I still walk into restaurants, for example, and look around at the number of customers, what they are eating, and the time of day. From that I draw conclusions about how well that business is doing. It’s in my blood. This kind of observational research applies to all kinds of businesses. I thought I would give it a try in Pattaya, Thailand, two hours down the freeway from my home in Bangkok.
Recently pedophilia was front and center in a story about foreign men coming to Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is a beach resort, a huge one, where I go to scuba dive. Sometimes I take mini-vacations there to get away from Bangkok. So I did that with the deliberate intention of looking for all those foreign pedophiles that are supposed to be everywhere in Pattaya. As always they seemed to be hiding, but I suspect the forces of the rescue industry will say that pedophiles look just like me, like any man.
So, instead I decided to look for the children who are also supposed to be all over Pattaya and forced to be prostitutes. Maybe they are easier to find.
There are about five different places in Pattaya where sex workers can be found. The biggest and most public is along the board walk next to the beach on the ocean side of Beach Road.
The secret place is hard to find. Maybe it isn’t real
With tongue in cheek I have to guess there is also a mysterious place where those under 18 year old “girls” are located, a place no one has ever directed me to and I have never found. I have not deliberately been looking for this famous place, but, since anti-trafficking blogs seem to know all about it, you would think I would know about it too. Hey, I live here. But, sorry, I have no idea where that is.
I wonder, based on my experience, if it is located only in the imagination of those who want it to be there somewhere because talking about it is good for their donations. I realize I am being sarcastic but if the rescue industry forces care to comment I suspect they will say, ad infinitum, this is is a hidden vice.
Of course, as a person with graduate level marketing training, I suspect that something that appears to be hidden is more likely to be non-existent since, if a product is hidden, it is not likely to be selling very well.
Or anti-trafficking zealots might say that any tuk tuk driver can take me to a place with children, if I ask. Maybe I will test that in future research.
This my “Walking Around” research
Here is what I did in your behalf for the sake of research. Since I couldn’t find that other place, the secret place where the under 18 year old “girls” all hide, I walked for over a mile from Walking Street along Beach Street until the “board walk” gets very sparsely populated beyond Soi 6. And here is my report:
I counted approximately 450 women whom I thought were sex workers. Yes, 450! Only at the end did it become hard to keep track of the exact number without taking notes as I walked. Quite a few were sitting relaxed with much older men than me and I am 67 years old now. Many older men, and I will just say old men, were in conversation with these women. Many, and I do mean many, of these women were easily in their 40s and 50s and some older than that. Some of these quasi-couples were sharing drinks, food or cigarettes. It looked like a very sociable evening (10-11 pm) at a community senior center. I was surprised to see this. Yes, I was surprised to see what was going on there, to see how old many of these people seemed to be. Nevertheless I did think these older women were indeed sex workers although maybe with as much companionship to offer as sex. There were also clusters of younger women, but even they looked to be at least in their late 20s or 30s. Only a very few looked to be younger than 25 years old.
Some were under 18, but were they sex workers?
Of course you want to hear about those “children” who the pedophiles are looking for, right. I did not see a single example of any contact or negotiation going on like that, none! It is easy to tell when a man and sex worker are discussing price and where they can go, etc. I saw very little of that by people of any age. Maybe 11 pm was too early.
Here is what I did see. First, I did see one cluster of four “girls” who were probably under 18 years old. I passed them by before turning back to start my count. They looked like lower high school age, 15 or 16 maybe. They were giggly, probably because they knew what the older women were doing there. I approached this group on my second pass (as I was counting) and I considered saying something to see how they would respond. Maybe they will use some code words or verbal hints that tell me they are sex workers. But before I could do that they got up from their seats as a group and wandered over to a MacDonald’s Restaurant on the other side of Beach Street. I paused for a few minutes there and they came out with ice cream cones and did not return to the beach side of the street.
Those were the youngest women I saw who were not with tourist parents. They did not behave like they were sex workers.
Second, there was one woman who looked young mostly because she was small and slim. I asked how old she was and she said she was 19 years old. She could have been lying, but she was the only truly suspicious one. Since your dedicated researcher, me, is only 5 foot 6 inches on a tall day, I like shorter, slim Thai women and have met many of them. One delightful friend of mine is under 5 foot tall (150 cm) and only about 77 pounds (35 kilos). She looks like an American 9th grader but, in fact, she is 25 years old and has four children. So, when the smallish woman told me she was 19 based on experience, I believe her.
Summation of my “walking around” research – –
So, in over an hour of cruising this mile long area I saw only this small group, plus one more standing alone, who looked like they could be under 18 years old. Out of a total count of 450 other women who I thought were sex workers, that would be one percent who might have been under 18 years old. And their behavior discounted their likelihood of being sex workers.
Again, it remains a mystery where all those pedophiles and all their victims are located. No street hustler has ever offered to direct me to this special, illegal product that so many blogs seem to think is right there staring every foreign man in the face. Sorry! That just isn’t true.
On the other hand, it is worth considering that the entire rescue industry (rescuing sex workers) has been repeatedly exposed as being built on a foundation of lies and exaggeration. Here it is again. I am not going to call individual people liars. The blogs have that extreme heartbreaking story to sell to you back home to raise donations and further their mission. Very likely the individual people involved may believe their own lies, their own version of the story just as they hope you believe there are children openly available for sex in Thailand. Anti-trafficking bloggers seem share stories between each other without ever seeing for themselves what I am reporting to you here. Or they can walk the same walk as me and see what they want to see – and tell you how horrible it was. But it isn’t.
A challenge: I urge you to come to Pattaya yourself.
All the major hotels are in Pattaya: Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn and many more Asian chains that will amaze you. Many of them are across the street from where I took my walk. Pattaya is not for everyone. It is a place with lots of opportunities for the heavy drinkers. There is a lot of late night live music. And, yes, there are adult, willing sex workers available if that’s your thing, but that is true in many countries around the world.
There surely are some – some! – 15-17 year “children”, often young mothers hanging around the fringe hoping to make money like their older sisters are openly allowed to do, They can’t go to your hotel and they can’t go into bars. There is no obvious way to find them. No one I know of is looking specifically for women under 18 years old. That certainly isn’t what Pattaya is about. And don’t let anyone tell you that it is.
By the way, in the early 90s I spent two night in Las Vegas. The one thing that shocked me most there was a big bar with large neon lights just off the main strip which advertised GO Go girls. So, why was I shocked at that? The pitch on their big signs was that none of the girls in this bar doing lap dances and so on where older than 20 years. They were 18 – 19- or 20, and maybe they were even 20 years old since it has been so long ago. I suggest that if you are looking for men looking for a legal pedophile thrill you will do better in the good old USA than in Thailand.
I have never seen anything to freaky here, not like Las Vegas. But I’ll keep looking and report to you if I do.
Stay turned for more “walking around” observational reports.