Do I Have Any Choice?: Prostitution in Thailand

Date of Graduation

Fall 1998


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Isabelle Bauman


This study is motivated by the increasing problems resulting from the spread of prostitution in Thailand. Prostitutes start from abject poverty and end getting caught up in the materialistic world. As time goes by, more and more uneducated and low skill women seem to flow into prostitution. The researcher interviewed 60 people: current and former prostitutes and the acquaintances in Bangkok, Pattaya, and two villages in the North and the Northeast of Thailand. Information about the villages in North and Northeast were obtained with the assistance of the Women Foundation, an organization that helps these women in their rehabilitation after prostitution. Shame/Embarrassment/Stigma, Social Construction Theory, particularly social support, and weak ties are discessed in this study. Data from the interviews was classified into three different theme areas to facilitate readers' understanding of these women's perspectives and their working conditions. These themes cover Women, Families, and Community; Development; and Routes and Networks. Results indicate that prostitution continues because of economic pressures. Current and former prostitutes and their families hide the problems associated with prostitution in order to avoid feeling shame. This avoidance leads to a lack of social support among current and former prostitutes.

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