Stickman Weekly 21/5/2006
The Age Of Consent In Thailand
There's something about the word paedophile that elicits a strongly negative response in people. Talk of fraudsters, thieves, hell, even the word terrorist does not elicit such a strong reaction.
Last week Steve Prowler was extradited to the US to face charges relating to having sex with kids abroad after serving a year in a Thai jail. He was not the first foreigner to be convicted of such charges in Thailand, and he won't be the last.
Right now there are Western men engaging in sexual activities with underage girls (and boys). And some don't even know it...
While many Western men may come to Thailand specifically for the purpose of being naughty with the ladies of the night, most of these guys would be horrified at thought of getting into bed with someone young, someone not of legal age.
Is there a problem with underage girls and foreign men in Thailand?
There is a misconception that if a girl works in a bar, especially a Western owned or managed bar, that she will be of legal age. Most Western bar owners are careful when hiring staff and wouldn't dream of hiring an underage girl, but there are a few who will take underage girls on, so long as the girl in question is not blatantly obviously underage.
Unfortunately there are a few bar owners who may truly believe that all of their girls are of legal age, when in fact one or two are not. But is the problem really that widespread? Actually, I believe it is...
If we turn back the clock a few years, one particular Soi Cowboy bar rightfully had the reputation of being something of a paedophile's playground. If my memory serves me right, there were 4 girls aged under 16, and about the same number again aged under 18. A few of the girls even came from the same village in Surin. Worst of all, the owner of the bar was fully aware of the situation.
So what is the age of consent in Thailand? Thai law states that the age of consent is 15 years of age. But to confuse matters a little, when it comes to commercial sex, that is prostitution, the age of consent is not 15, but 18. To really confuse matters even further, there are laws that state that those under 20 are not allowed to enter certain establishments, although this is not an age of consent issue as such, but a law related to alcohol consumption.
This confusion leads to another problem. There are guys who have had sex with underage girls in Thailand and truly didn't know. Some guys believe that a girl of 16 or 17 is legal, but if he met her in a bar, she isn't. He broke the law.
And there are those guys who get involved with a girl who lies about her age. One close friend did the dirty with one particular girl a number of times who he truly believed (and to this day still does not know) that she was in her early '20s, when in fact she was only 15 at the time. She worked in a bar and he barfined her from there. She looked much older than she was. I was later to find out she was underage at that time, and had been working in the bar industry since she was 14!
Of course there are guys who have done so knowingly, in full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal, breaking not only the laws of Thailand, but perhaps also the laws of their own country too.
There is a significant number of underage girls working in the naughty bars in Thailand. My best guess is that about 1- 1.5% of the women working in the naughty venues that target Western men are aged under 18, under the age of consent for sex workers.
There are a few different issues to examine, but to make it simple, let's separate the issue into the two different age groups, those to who the age of consent of 15 applies, and those to who the age of consent of 18 applies.
If a guy is naughty in Thailand with a girl aged 14 or less, he is breaking the law. There is no grey area here. Even if she had purported to be older, if he's caught off to the monkey house, or making one huge donation to someone.
A guy who has sex with an underage girl is at risk of being blackmailed by the girl, the bar, or anyone who is aware of what took place. It could be someone else in the bar, the girl's boyfriend, or a member of her family. Hell, it could even be a member of staff at the hotel. But this sort of thing is, to the best of my knowledge, surprisingly uncommon.
It has been suggested that the aforementioned paedophile who was extradited last week was caught because he pissed off people in the apartment building he had lived in for many years. It is said that staff had seen him take many young boys up to his apartment over the years and had tolerated this, even if they didn't approve. But then apparently something happened and he had a fight, argument or some sort of altercation with a member of staff and it was that which prompted them to tip off the boys in brown.
Moving on, what about a guy who meets a lady aged 15 - 17, away from the naughty bar areas, places she has never been to or even thought about going to, and he is a naughty boy with her. This is legal, right? By the letter of the law, it is legal, but it is not necessarily tolerated. Read on...
Let's think about a girl aged 15 - 17 in Thailand. Imagine she has been brought up in a socially conservative family - which really is most of Thailand. Let's say that she meets a farang guy. He needn't be the stereotypical older sex tourist, but could well be a young, handsome, well-educated and gainfully employed Westerner in his early '20s. Let's say she falls for him, he treats her like a lady, and takes several months before he jumps into bed with her. But he does. Eventually he sleeps with her, quite possibly de-flowering her. She has now been sullied.
When the family finds this out - and at some time they will - they will be furious. They know that the chances of a good Thai man marrying her - and them receiving a dowry - has now been greatly reduced. She has, in the eyes of many Thais, been marred. It doesn't matter that she was quite willing - that is totally irrelevant in the eyes of her family, and in fact, much of society. In the eyes of Thai society men have a responsibility to refrain from soiling women like this.
Now a complaint could be laid with the police, but as a crime has not been committed per se, charges couldn't be laid, so the family would have to seek justice themselves.
If the boy was Thai he would in all likelihood be given the chance to marry the girl. If married, the problem would be gone. But if the boy was not willing to marry her, or the family did not approve of this lad to marry their daughter, the girl's parents would go and see the boy's parents to discuss the issue and try and come up with a suitable resolution.
Let's not beat about the bush here, resolution means a cash settlement. In a situation like this upcountry in a rural village, figures of around 30,000 baht are typical of compensation sought. In a provincial capital, in a major city, or with a girl from a respected, rich, or influential family, you can multiply this figure many times.
Now to Westerners this might all sound like some sort of extortion or blackmail, but the average Thai would not likely see it like that. It would be seen as fair compensation for soiling the girl. In reality, a Westerner would rarely face this situation. While some Westerners do report jumping into bed with young women, women of legal age, but still young, these women are often from the countryside, a long way from their families, who have no idea what their daughter is up to.
This seeking of compensation is not exclusive to young girls either, although it is more common with younger girls. One of Mrs. Stick's best friends was dumped by her boyfriend at age 32 and the family went to seek compensation from the family of the boy. It got really messy. This represents how seriously this idea is taken.
Let's just imagine a farang gets himself into a mess like this and the family demands that he compensates them for their loss. The average farang would likely tell them to get the hell out of there and think it was some sort of joke. She was 16 or 17 after all, and he did not break any law. He is right! He didn't! But the law is not the issue.
In such a situation a typical response might be to tell the family to look around them at what all and sundry are up to. Don't be fooled by the growing number of promiscuous young Thai women. Thailand remains, for the most part, socially conservative. Her family would not react well to what they would see as a lack of responsibility on his part.
What would likely happen next would be a demand for compensation and if it was not forthcoming, this young farang could very well be threatened and if no compensation was coming, physically harmed. Being killed is not out of the question. This might sound extreme, and most unlikely, but this sort of thing DOES happen upcountry.
Like so much in Thailand, things don't always follow the letter of the law. In the West we tend to look at the law as the bottom line of what is acceptable and what is not. It is not the same in Thailand.
Getting back to the naughty nightlife industry, it is said that the underage problem is much worse in the Thai sector of the industry, which of course is many times larger than that which is available to Westerners. I do not know whether this is true or not, but that said I don't doubt it. Remember the girls in the bars are often referred to as "deck" - which literally translates as child.
I'm not going to discuss the morals of a guy having sex with someone who is not of legal age. We know about those already. Kiddy fiddling is very clearly wrong. I'm also not going to get into the reasons why youngsters end up having sex with adults. That is beyond the scope of this article.
The problem of young women in the naughty bars will, in all likelihood, continue but as there is so much choice in the naughty bars already, any guy who gets himself involved with a young girl is just asking for trouble.
If you are unsure about a lady's age, remember Stickman's young girl rule - it's the same as the katoey rule. If you think she is a katoey, she probably is a katoey. So if you think she's underage, she probably is underage. Leave the underage girls alone.
Where WAS THIS PICTURE taken?
It was the Marriott in Pattaya.
Where is that?!
Last week's picture was taken of the Marriot Hotel in Pattaya. A heap of readers thought it was the Shangri-La in Bangkok. This week's picture is again outside of the capital. The first prize is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar and prizes 2 and 3 are a 600 baht dinner voucher for 2 at Sin in Sukhumvit Soi 4. The prizes are only available to people in Thailand now - either residents or tourists, and must be redeemed within 2 weeks. You MUST say that you are in Bangkok and able to claim the prize or I will consider you ineligible. If you do not explicitly mention you are local or that you will be in town in the next two weeks, you cannot claim a prize.
FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX
The most expensive instant coffee in Thailand?
Speaking of ordering coffee in bars, I finished one recent night in Soi Cowboy in Five Star Bar, the small bar with a live band AND gogo girls. I'd had enough to drink elsewhere so just ordered a coffee. I knew it would be instant, but that was okay, and I was used to being charged 50 baht for instant coffee in the bars. They charged me 90 baht! The beer there is on the cheap side, so I was a bit surprised about the instant-coffee price.
Never look at something on your path.
I was driving my car around a blind bend on a one way stretch of road the other day when (no surprises here) a motorcyclist travelling at high speed and in the wrong direction suddenly appeared right in front of me. I had to take evasive action due to the fact that as soon as he saw my car heading straight at him HE LOOKED THE OTHER WAY! Regular drivers here will know that in Thailand vehicles will simply pull out, creating a dangerous obstruction while the driver gazes intently at passing aircraft or becomes totally engrossed in mobile phone conversations. There is no doubt that this absolute stupidity springs in part from 'avoidance of confrontation' issues here, and pedestrians can also witness a similar phenomenon when walking in streets or shopping malls. Firstly, it's important to 'pretend' that you haven't been seen, then the trick is to walk straight at you whilst engrossed in conversation or staring at some distant object.
A great, positive story!
I went to the hard rock café a couple days ago waiting for a movie, while sipping on my cocktail I noticed at a table a guy who apparently seemed to be very heavily handicapped, he obviously could not move very well by himself and his handicap was apparently also mental. Nevertheless, he was escorted by two charming Thai ladies in their mid twenties, who were taking pretty good care of him all the way. After a little while they took him in front of the band and many waitresses came to talk and joke with him very nicely. This is a scene that I will not forget, as in most western country, someone with such a handicap would not even be accepted in the Hard Rock Café and if he would the waitresses would not approach him, or very reluctantly, and charming western ladies would be ashamed being seen with him.
Different hospital = half price.
In April I went to Bangkok Heart Hospital and they made a diagnosis. They showed me the test results. I don't doubt their accuracy. They wanted 1.2 million to fix me up. I then went to Ramkhamhaeng and they confirmed the original diagnosis but suggested a different solution. Both require major surgery. One includes a triple bypass but the other indicated that angioplasty could be used in place of a triple bypass. The price at Ram was 500,000 - 700,000. My point is that even though Bumrungrad and Bangkok Heart are great hospitals they do seem to have a lot of overheads to support and that the private Thai hospitals can be just as good and more affordable. You can get the same angioplasty at the Thai hospitals for less than half the cost that you would incur at Bumrungrad or Bangkok Heart Hospital
A liberal Dad.
I saw a couple of young lads down at Nana Plaza a few weeks ago. They were in one of the open air bars outside with their Dad. They were about 16 or 17 by my eyes although they could have been 15, given that lads look a lot older these days. The father seemed to be orientating them to the scene! He arranged girls to sit with them and after 15 minutes one of them started fondling a bargirl. Another customer went up and asked the Dad if he was "breaking them in" to which he loudly and confidently replied "yes have you got a problem with that". Yes - they do start young...and with Dad's approval. God knows where Mum was or whether she would agree. I guess these boys are either lucky to have such a liberal Dad, or doomed to have tasted 'the dark side' of the world only to be stained and addicted for the rest of their lives. Now how would you feel if you were a Dad and got your son into the seedy side of life for the rest of his life!
Samui has always been a bit of a backwater. I first went there back in (about) 1982; no airport then, but there was the 'express' ferry from Surat Thani. There was absolutely nothing there back then, a beach hut cost 20 baht per night. I stayed in sight of Big Buddha on Bohput Beach, all the locals wanted to sell you were either pot or magic mushrooms, and the ice that came from the only ice factory on the island had a strange, yellowish tint to it. I went back again sometime in 1990, traffic was horrible (really no rules). Hired a Suzuki Caribbean, but there wasn't much to see. Won't be going back in a hurry.
Where'd the money go?!
I was just in Bangkok and went to a bar on the lower left, ground floor, in Nana. I never go there because it’s half katoeys but two friends of mine from Pretty Lady were dancing there. We had a few drinks and were throwing ping-pong balls like crazy, having a lot of fun. I gave the mamasan a 500 baht note and she gave me a bowl of balls and 400 in change but came back a few minutes later and said that he forgot to take out for the balls. I did not give him another hundred but it was obvious that they were trying to rob me. I should have left but didn’t. After a while I gave the ball girl a thousand baht note. I held it up and snapped it a few times shouting "1,000 baht, want change!" She took the money and never returned. When I complained to her, the mamasan and the Thai manager, no one knew what I was talking about. Whose fault is this? Mine of course for being so stupid to stay.
The escalator in Nana Plaza is working again and that can only mean bad news for Dave The Rave whose waistline will not get the daily work out it needs, ascending the stairs.
In the growing trend to the "a few ugly girls format", Kiss Bar has joined several of the Patpong bars with only 4 girls per pod shuffling around on stage. A steep drop in quantity and quality over its former line up.
Another Patpong favourite, Pink Panther, is undergoing major renovations and piles of broken concrete and new bags of cement litter the footpath out front.
The invasion of Pattaya might be an accurate catch-phrase this week on a number of fronts. As expected, military forces from the US, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Indonesia were on hand to help boost the finances of bars and working girls across town. They are in the area for the annual Cobra Gold exercises which are scheduled to run until May 26. Many will linger beyond that date to take advantage of all Fun City has to offer. Some feel that the military guys get all of the girls, and others feel that the military guys are there for a fight. Let me say that I have found the American military guys I have chatted with to be total gentleman and while they might respond if provoked, they actually seem to be extremely well behaved. This year a directive went out that they were to stay away from the Beach Road in Pattaya. Walking Street was ok, but Beach Road off limits. So if you want to avoid them, just hang out around the Beach Road.
Who controls the music volume in Hollywood Carousel in Nana? My God, they must be deaf, the music is positively screaming out at customers, as if its concert. That complaint aside, the bar is looking good with a heap of new ladies, and it seems to be doing a good trade, this past Friday there were serious numbers of customers in there.
A reminder that tonight (Sunday 21 May) Babewatch in Pattaya is holding its first dance contest. The fun starts at 9.30 so get there early to get a front row seat. There will also be a best show contest with 2 or 3 girls per team. 25,000 baht is up for grabs so no doubt the girls will do all they can!
Also in Babewatch, every Tuesday night is Oldies Music Night. If you're over 35, get on down for a night of memories and mammories. Only music from the 70's and 80's will be played. Gold Tequila will be on sale all night for 30 baht a shot. Anybody turning up in flared trousers or a kipper tie gets a drink on the house. Ricky says that over 35s should come down for Oldies night. Cripes Ricky, I'm over 35 but I'm not old!
Big John is the first to let us know about drinking specials for the World Cup. His World Cup special starting 9th June is a free glass of Chang Draft to anyone who can empty their beer glass and get to the bar within 2 minutes of a goal during all LIVE World Cup matches, no matter what time of the morning they are on. Promotions aside, Big John was to get married yesterday. We wish him and his wife a long, and happy life together.
And speaking of another Big John, Bully's is starting a Sunday carvery. For 290 baht roast lamb, pork and beef will all be on offer. For Brits and other members of the Commonwealth who like nothing more than a good roast on a Sunday, there are now a number of good venues to choose from. Bully's also now has live music from 10 PM, 2 nights weekly. On Thursday it's Cannonball and on Saturday the popular Soi Dogs. Bully's has John Smith, Paulaner, Kilkenny, Guinness and Strongbow all available on draft.
Popular bar manager PJ checked out of Bumrungrad and is at home recovering from his stroke. A hospital stay scares the fittest of us but PJ made the most of his time in Thailand's premier hospital by enjoying the food that can be found there. One meal he enjoyed a succulent plate of melon and Parma ham, followed by a gooey slice of rich lasagna. I guess the stroke really wasn't that serious! And Bumrungrad's standards are not just about allowing patients to eat their favourite meals. Poor old PJ was denied a 2 AM visit by three lovelies who made the trek up Soi 3 to see him at 2 AM. They were turned away from ICU, a little perplexed as to why they weren't allowed entry.
For any bars who want to get their hands on the excellent Beer Lao, Kob, a partner in Tony's Bar, is the distributor for Beer Lao in the Bangkok area. They will deliver to bars I believe. I'm not sure how it came about that the stuff is available in Thailand legally because getting it here in the past was always one major drama after another. A few cases will be available at Tony's for people who want to take it away, at 800 baht for the case, with a minimum order of one case.
A new bar is under construction above Foodland in Soi 5. To be known as the Rooftop Garden, it will cater for the khao tom market. Customers will be able to have a bowl of soup whilst watching the World Cup games. It will be garden style with pool tables and TVs covering various sports scattered around the joint. There's lots of work in progress at the moment. Expect it to open in a week or so.
Back in Pattaya, police invaded Soi 6...kinda. Bars operating in Pattaya’s short-time Mecca were told last Monday to get the girls off the street and out of sight. No lingering in front of bars, beckoning customers, and making it appear that anything illicit was in the offing. Periodic police patrols helped ensure compliance. But all appears to be back to normal now. It seems there was a meeting of VIPs early in the week at the Grand Sole Hotel - on Second Road near Soi 6. Police did not want the visitors to get the wrong idea about the Pattaya bar scene, so decided to shield the visitors from witnessing normal activities on the most sordid of sois.
To conserve and protect. Daily downpours notwithstanding, peddling police have also gotten into the invasion theme. In an attempt to conserve the use of petrol and help the local environment, a number of Pattaya police officers have been issued bicycles and are now peddling their way down Beach Road, Walking Street and other areas of town. Speaking of which, the infamous mile-long walk will be closed to vehicles for an additional hour each day. Beginning in August, all but foot traffic (and the men in brown on bikes) will be barred from entry between the hours of 7 PM and 3 AM; it currently is closed until 2 AM. The additional hour is meant to afford safety for the thousands of customers and workers exiting bars, restaurants and other establishments that close at 2 AM. Most now converge on Walking Street and are confronted by all forms of motor traffic, creating impenetrable congestion.
On the heels of the Route 999 Disco tragedy two weeks ago, in which 8 people died and 55 were seriously injured, operators of entertainment venues throughout Pattaya are being told to upgrade their safety standards. Route 999 apparently was in breach of such safety codes, having no sprinkler system and inadequate emergency exits. Many Pattaya nightspots are equally unsafe and vulnerable in the event of fire. The city has ordered all nightspots and pubs to be inspected to ensure they comply with existing laws.
If you like beer and pretty dancing girls, you’re in for a treat. Living Dolls One is offering both temptations free on Wednesday nights. That is to say, you can drink beer without charge while ogling pretty gogo girls from 8 until 9:30 PM. Living Dolls One is on Walking Street opposite Honey A Gogo.
One of the biggest complaints amongst those who invite Thai lasses to spend the night with them is that certain things are agreed to in advance, and then the lady changes her mind. Long time becomes short time, and sometimes that short time might be really short. I bet a lot of guys who have had such problems would love to take advantage of a service promise that is offered by a naughty bar in the Philippines. Check out this link. What are the odds of this happening in Thailand? Zero, with one exception, the one place that does take customer satisfaction seriously, the Eden Club. That's about your only option.
A few weeks back in the column I speculated as to just when the price of petrol would reach 30 baht a litre here in Thailand. Well down on Samui it had well and truly passed that level. At the many 44 gallon drum fill up points for motorcycles the average price was 40 baht a litre. But those places don't really count. But 30 baht has been well and truly passed. The prices pictured here are what petrol was going for on Samui.
Quote of the week comes from a reader. "In Thailand, romance is money."
Indian tailors in Bangkok speak a number of languages fluently. I heard of one Bangkok based Indian who is said to speaks 23 languages, though that would hardly be the norm. Anyway, when you are getting measured of up for clothes in a tailor's store there is usually one fellow measuring you, and another recording the measurements. They go through the names of the different body parts and measurements in one of the Indian languages, but when they say the actual measurements i.e. the numbers, they use Thai. Just why is that?
I am often asked questions about various fetishes, their availability, and all other manner of venues in Thailand. I'm not into any of this sort of carry on, so could not tell you where such could be found. But for those of you who are up for swinging, then here is the place for you.
Thailand embarrassed itself internationally yet again this week when reports came out that the last ten minutes of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, "The Da Vinci Code", would not just be edited, but would be cut out altogether. Then a couple of days later the authorities changed their minds... The Mrs. and I went to see the flick on the opening day at one cinema complex which promised it every hour, but the prints of the film had not arrived yet. The staff thought they would arrive on Friday "but we cannot even guarantee that"! I thought I was in Disneyland for a few moments...
Ask the Sticks
Mrs. Stick is here to answer questions surrounding anything that confuses you in Thailand, particularly issues of the heart. Please note that for general bargirl related questions, Mr. Stick might answer them. It has to be said that Mrs. Stick is not your stereotypical Thai woman. She simply offers the perspective of one Thai woman. She is not Buddhist and she is not shy to criticise things about her own country and culture, although having said that, she remains proud to be Thai. Mr. Stick will try and answer the questions which Mrs. Stick is not so sure about. Please do try and limit the length of questions to Mrs. Stick to about 100 words. We get many questions that are entire stories of several hundred words which I'm afraid are just too long to run here.
Question 1: What is the proper way to show a Thai lady your affection for her? My wife thinks that hugging is pretty silly.
Mrs. Stick says: It depends on the individual for this kind of thing. Just ask her what she likes. You should know your wife better than me! Just one thing about the hugging. Maybe you did it public which she probably wouldn't like, or maybe you did it too often and she got bored of it and it and felt it had no real meaning?
Question 2: In the West women generally want to have children by the time they are 30, however it is not unusual for a woman to have children when the woman is closer to 40 years old. I understand that many Thai women may have babies earlier because of the importance of family in Thai culture. My question is, at what age is it no longer possible for most Thai women to have children, culture aside and speaking only about the body? Do you know of many Thai women that have had babies in their mid 30's to 40?
Mrs. Stick says: I have friends and colleagues who have had children in their mid and late '30s. I am sure it is possible for women to have children at an age older than this. I saw something on the news a few weeks ago about a woman in either the US or England who was pregnant and going to have a child at over 60. What age is the maximum I really do not know, but I don't think it would be different for Thai women than women from another country. But older than late 30s is much less common.
Question 3: I don't know if this is just a coincidence or actually I have become aware of a cultural habit of Thai fathers. To be specific; yesterday I learned that a third Thai friend had a formal birth date that is different than their actual birth date. In this case it was 8 months earlier. In the other two cases it was a year or two earlier. In all three cases these ladies are respectable ladies who work in either government or office work. All 3 were born outside of Bangkok. In each case they said that their fathers "purposely filed the wrong birthdates". So my question to you is; Is this common practice and if so for what purpose?
Mrs. Stick says: I am really guessing here and not 100% sure. In the past, transportation links in the countryside were not what they are now and that may have been a contributing factor. I know that there is a law that you have to "jaeng gert" - means report a birth - within a number of days. Maybe there was another reason?
Another summer holiday is coming to an end. Two and a bit months off has been great. Floating around the country, enjoying the various islands and beach resorts, having fun in Bangkok, and spending lots of time on the site. But all good things come to an end and this week I return to the grind, teaching. I'll be back in front of a class, after spending most of my time in front of a computer. Teaching may not be the most desirable job in Thailand, but any job that gives you three months off paid per year (we get another month in October) can't be a bad thing. That said, the idea of running this site full-time, away from the teaching is a thought I entertain daily. Decisions, decisions...
Your Bangkok commentator,
Thanks go out to Bangkok Grasshopper, Mr. Write and Claymore.
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