This article doesn’t promote or condemn Go-Go bars, or prostitution more in Thailand or elsewhere. Our readers are smart enough to make their own minds up. All we want to do is to explain the facts.
Go-go bars in Bangkok and other big cities are generally bars with a stage in the middle and seating around the sides, with booths at the back of the room. Drinks come at a slight premium and they rarely charge an entry fee. The girls dance in skimpy clothing to loud music.
For these bars the economics work like this. The girls get no salary but free food and board. For this basic package a girl has sales targets to achieve. Generally what happens is they are required to sell a certain number of ‘lady drinks’ each month. A lady drink is an overpriced drink which the patron must buy the girl if they want to engage them in a prolonged conversation. The girls generally must also make a certain number of ‘bar fines’ in a month (2 or 3 is a normal sales target). A bar fine is the money a customer must pay to the bar to take the girl back to their hotel. The girl then gets paid by the customer directly for whatever ‘service’ she then goes on to provide.
The big issue is one of exploitation. Exploiting people is wrong. The answer to the question of whether the girls are exploited isn’t obvious though. Bear with us, we explain why by running through different types of exploitation:
Exploitation of a minor – Definitely goes on, not that frequently in Go-Go bars. The girls tend to be over 18.
Economic exploitation – Difficult question to answer. On the one hand most of the girls involved in this kind of business come from the poor North-East of Thailand and are in Bangkok to earn money to send back to their hard up families. The other side of the coin is that for a healthy young Thai woman it is not difficult to find work in Bangkok, or indeed in most other parts of Thailand. The girls aren’t driven into the industry because they have no other opportunity to earn money. There is a big difference in potential earnings between working in a restaurant (around $300 a month, maybe less), and working in a Go-Go bar (perhaps an average of $900 a month). $300 isn’t much, and the girl in the restaurant is probably working very hard for 8 to 10 hours a day, but they can live on it – most of Thai people live on a comparable wage.
Exploitation by drugs – big drug problem, much more so than outside the industry. The favored drug is ‘yaba’ (methamphetamine and caffeine) that helps the girls stay awake, and distanced from what is happening to them.
Exploitation by family – the girls don’t come to Bangkok with the intention of doing this kind of work. The families know how the money they receive is come by; but in our opinion it isn’t normal for the girls to be sent away by their families with the express intention to work in a Go Go bar.
The damage to the girls themselves is obvious. Many suffer from the drug use and alcohol. Many have mental health issues. Not pleasant. But is it immoral? This is a big part of Thailand. It is not just foreign influence either. The biggest market is Thai men. But can something be called ‘right’ just because it is part of someone else’s culture?
Anyway, food for thought we hope. Sorry, if you came to the site searching for nude photographs.