Academic suggests prostitution laws need change to be in line with reality

Law lecturer Akawat Laowonsiri said on Wednesday (June 12) at a seminar entitled “Review of the prevention and suppression of prostitution laws project”, held at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus, that he is drafting new laws to introduce zoning for sex related activities under the authority of the Department of Local Administration.

He went on to explain that Thailand is obliged to protect the rights of sex workers and is a signatory to  international commitments like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In addition, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 Amendment (No. 4), B.E. 2560 (2017) Section 40 guarantees the rights of a person to enjoy the liberty to engage in an occupation.

The researcher said that updating the laws will tackle the issue of the health and well-being of all the stakeholders in the sex industry. For example, a law to protect the rights of a wife whose husband has a sexually-transmitted disease is needed, in accordance with the principle of universal coverage. Sex workers should be free to refuse to provide a service and they should have the right to be fairly treated and paid in the workplace.

In response to those who fear a rise in the number of people entering the sex industry if the laws are amended, Dr. Akawat Laowonsiri confirmed that his study shows a steady decline prostitution in Thailand since the Vietnam War, when the industry was at its peak.

He added that people in the sex industry face many challenges to which most Thais are not exposed, such as organized crime, drug dealers, human traffickers and more.

“From the conservative point of view, it is necessary to have this kind of law in place to improve society. We have to find a way to adapt to the changing world,” says Dr. Akawat.


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