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Burmese survivors of a mass suffocation on the road to Phuket, 2008

Phuket Officials Reject 'Teens in Brothels' Report

Friday, April 22, 2011
REPORTS that Burmese girls as young as 13 or 14 are being trafficked to Phuket to work in brothels have been rejected by Phuket Public Health officials.

Phuketwan's sources in the border port of Ranong agree that it would be an exaggeration to say that Burmese teenagers are being trafficked to work on Phuket.

What's acknowledged is that there are Burmese women working in the sex trade on Phuket.

They are not found in the popular tourist sex centres of Patong and Karon, but in Koh Sireh, Cherng Talay and Tachatchai.

Burmese women sometimes make their way south from Ranong to Phuket in pairs or small groups, Phuketwan's source says.

If there is a brothel on Phuket containing 200 Burmese workers, as claimed in an article that recently appeared on, then officials in Phuket Public Health department say they are unaware of the brothel.

Health officials and sources agree that Phuket's large army of legal and illegal Burmese construction workers, plus others who crew fishing trawlers out of Phuket ports, mean that Burmese prostitutes can be found on Phuket.

''They usually work in local karaokes,'' our source said. ''Burmese can sometimes be found sitting at the rear of these establishments, especially close to Phuket's ports.''

Some estimates have put the population of Burmese on Phuket as high as 200,000.

There's a low tolerance of under-age workers being employed in Phuket's sex industry, although a Phuketwan journalist was once offered a teenager for sex while strolling through the Phuket City area of Poonpol early one afternoon.

It's said that sex can be bought for as little as 300 baht in the more notorious parts of Phuket. Soi Bangla and other tourist sex centres on Phuket are better-lit and more tightly controlled than places where cheap sex is available on Phuket.

In Ranong, where the proportion of Burmese is even higher than on Phuket and signs are mostly in three languages - Thai, Burmese and English - the red-light district is especially seedy.

A version of an interview with two young Burmese women that appeared in Phuketwan was presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year as part of an appeal by human rights groups for better treatment of Burmese immigrants in Thailand.

The women told Phuketwan that local police and Immigration officers in Ranong extorted money or sex from their victims, detaining them for lengthy periods or selling them to labor brokers if payments cannot be made.

One of the women, aged 17, said that she had been obliged to work at the age of 13 as a prostitute in a Ranong karaoke bar, selling sex at 350 baht a time, with 125 baht going to her ''owner'' and 100 baht going to a corrupt Immigration officer.

In a horrific incident in 2008, a total of 54 Burmese suffocated when the air-conditioning unit failed on a container truck carrying more than 100 illegals to Phuket.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


It's ironic how Thai Official first state that prostitution is illegal and immoral in Thailand and yet what isn't.

Thailand's reputation is one of theft, murder, corruption and prostitution and yet it is allowed to continue due to the amounts of money being handed under the table.

Don't talk about tarnishing the reputation when it's already so far down the sewer. Try doing something about it - but I guess that would mean losing a lot of tea money.

The rest of the world knows what Thailand really is and trying to put up a smoke screen doesn't work. What would work is ACTUALLY cleaning the place top to bottom.

Thailand will remain a cesspit of corruption, murder and prostitution as long as the official take the money.

Posted by Graham on April 22, 2011 15:43

Editor Comment:

You're overstating it, Graham. Yes there's corruption, yes there's prostitution, yes there is murder. Now name a country that doesn't have all three. What you neglect to mention is the other side of the ledger - that Thailand remains an excellent place to visit. Exaggerations serve no useful purpose.


Why would you mention the specific location in Phuket Town? It could encourage the wrong people who are interested in that kind of thing.

Posted by Vfaye on April 22, 2011 16:34

Editor Comment:

It's Phuket City, not Phuket Town. Soi 11 has been notorious for generations.


why do people come on here and put thailand down, ive been coming for years and am coming back in june and have never had any problems here, graham you want to live on the streets of south london then you will see murder and violence, yes you get murders in thailand but like the editor said name a country that does not have murders, i feel more safe walking the streets of thailand than i do on any western streets, don't knock thailand it is a beautifull country..

Posted by darren walker on April 22, 2011 16:40


sometime i feel that i am the only one who see the true in phuket? yesterday i was in a family mart in patong and i saw a burmese boy wearing a construction shirt and he was for sure not more then 15 years old...outside my house where i stay befor i could see how burmese kids working on construction sites. and now you think about all the cute burmese women, where they going? for sure they work as sex slaves...

Posted by mike on April 22, 2011 17:54


Editor I quote: "You're overstating it, Graham. Yes there's corruption, yes there's prostitution, yes there is murder. Now name a country that doesn't have all three." Phuket is not a country! It is allegedly a tourist destination and should not boast and host such an abundance of all 3!

Posted by Nip on April 22, 2011 18:53

Editor Comment:

I didn't say Phuket was a country. You need to spend some time in Miami, Nip. Let's talk if you get back.


Graham, I do agree with you and with the Ed.

You are right but you also exaggerate. However the general perception of most people not familiar with Thailand is just what you said. It doesn't reflect the truth but there's no smoke without fire.

Sex trade is present in every country for sure but rarely is it so in-your-face than in Thailand. In particular at tourist destinations.

That said, if Thai teenagers work in the sex trade, it would be quite foolish to assume that burmese are not being taken advantage of too.

Most Thais view them as sub-human and treat them with contempt.

I wish someone would encourage them to write about what life is like for a Burmese in Thailand. I'm sure that would be a real eye-opener for the world.

Posted by Chris on April 22, 2011 19:15


Please Editor, can you confirm Sex for Money is illegal in Thailand?

Then if it is illegal and we all know the places in Phuket, especially the 2 that you mention. Then why is this not being cleared up?

Posted by Tbs on April 22, 2011 22:24

Editor Comment:

A strong moral element within Thailand resists changes to the law, hence the difference between the legislation and the reality.


Editor Comment:

A strong moral element within Thailand resists changes to the law, hence the difference between the legislation and the reality.

.. So currently illegal or not??

Posted by another steve on April 23, 2011 09:02

Editor Comment:

Best ask at your local police station, another steve.

Friday December 4, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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