Given the fact that prostitution is in somewhat of a legal gray area in Thailand, officially illegal but tacitly supported by politicians and accepted (or at least tolerated) by the rest of society, makes it hard to crack down on inevitable abuse, exploitation, human trafficking, sex slavery, and even child prostitution–a crime severely punishable in virtually all countries.
While the government of Thailand has tried to limit the (usually forced) employment of underage people in the sex industry through the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of 1996, outlawing prostitution under the age of 18, in reality it has little to no ability and incentive to enforce these regulations. The fact that society shows a larger degree of tolerance toward prostitution than in most other cultures also contributes to children being practically forced into the sale of sexual services by their economic circumstances, sometimes by their very own families.
With the politicians’ tacit approval of prostitution, corrupt deals between law enforcement and the sex trade Mafia in Thailand have also been common, and there is little that the government is willing or able to do about violence and abuse against sex workers, or against women being forced into prostitution against their own will.
Thai human rights activist Kritaya Archavanitkul, lashing out against the governmental and social acceptance of the practice of prostitution in Thailand, said that “[policymakers in Thailand] don’t see it [prostitution] as a problem. They know there are many women who are brought into prostitution in Thailand . . . treated with brutal violance . . . they try to turn a blind eye to the problem.”