Thai sex trade may turn legal

Thailand will hold a two-day public hearing next month to debate whether to legalise its famous sex industry.

    More than 200,000 workers engage in Thailand's sex trade

    Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana said on Tuesday that even prostitutes would be invited to attend the meeting to air their views.

    "There will be a brainstorming session involving people from every segment of society including prostitutes who will share their information," Pongthep said.

    "If the public hearing finds that we should amend the current law, we will do it," the minister added.

    The most recent legislation to govern the industry was passed in 1996, substantially increasing penalties for selling children into the trade while reducing punishment for sex workers.

    "If the public hearing finds that we should amend the current law, we will do it"

    Pongthep Thepkanjana,
    justice minister


    Nargong Phetprasert, a professor of the Chulalongkorn University, said that any modification of the existing laws would likely be done through the repeal of four key articles.

    One of those articles makes it illegal for a woman to "behave" like a prostitute. This is often used by police to harass and exploit sex workers.

    Next month's meeting is also to discuss whether to register the country's estimated 200,000 sex workers.

    A section of the sex workers said that such a registration would permanently stigmatise them.

    Some non-governmental organisations also said that simple registration would do nothing to stop bribery, unfair profit-sharing and repressive regulations that plague the trade.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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