Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Thai Sex Workers Organise

This is an excellent film that shows how sex workers in Thailand are cooperating to improve their lives. The driving force behind the movement is the extraordinary Empower Foundation - see the web site here.

There are two perspectives represented, Empower recognises that many women have no choice but to sell their bodies, others do so because it is far more lucrative than any of the other options available to them. They are dedicated to giving these women support and education that will help them to be safe and as successful as they can possibly be. You could say that they are dealing with the world as it is, not as they wish it would be.

We also meet an American from an organisation, the objective of which is to eliminate prostitution. She openly scoffs at the work and achievements of Empower. Her view is that paid sex is, by definition abuse and should not be tolerated any more than we accept murder and robbery.

Watch the films and decide for yourself which of these women impresses you most.

Part 1
Part 2

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Islamic Rebellion - Thailand

This film paints a genuinely frightening picture of the Islamic Uprising in Southern Thailand. There are echoes of Britain's Northern Ireland situation here - an annexed territory and religious differences. This crisis gets little coverage in the West.

Well worth a look - Islamic rebellion

Friday, 22 March 2013

Speed Kills

Another interesting film on past Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's crackdown on the drug trade in Thailand.

It's also a stark warning as to what happens when the police operate with strict targets, the achievement of which determines whether a senior officer gets to keep his job.

Watch it here - Speed Kills

Quick Fix

I am generally wary of films from Journeyman Pictures. Too many have decided what they want to portray before they go looking for any evidence.

This is an honourable exception -  Quick Fix

There is no need to sensationalise or take one incident and claim it is representative of a bigger truth in this case. It's the shocking story of Thaksin Shinawatra's crackdown on the Thai drug trade. A fascinating film, well presented.

Prostitution and the Sex Trade in Thailand

This is another film anxious to throw statistics at us. It tells us with absolute certainty the number of children sold into sex slavery each year and the price at which they can be bought. It also states precisely how many people have HIV and says that AIDS is one of the major causes of death in the Kingdom. There are several other "facts" none of which are sourced.

If films like this want to be taken seriously they need to state their sources and the dates when the information was gathered. A quick check on the net suggests that a figure of 1% infection rate is broadly right (8 times the level in the UK) - and that AIDs is the third highest killer after strokes and heart disease. The data for the former is from 2009 and for the latter, as far as I can tell is from 2005. Ancient history in a country which is moving fast to deal with HIV and other STDs. The stats on child trafficking can be no more than guesses, I could find no corroboration, neither could I find anything to support the other statistics quoted.

The most peculiar aspect of the film is that also claims to portray the life of a TYPICAL Thai who sells herself for sex. A woman is seen strolling around the streets of what appears to be an English town, we are then treated to what looks like film of her lying on an automatic massage bed which has been set to maximum. I assume it is supposed to imply the many sexual encounters she has each day.

Only as I finished the review did I notice that the film was posted by a student, my guess is they are hoping for a career in TV fiction, even with the abysmal standard of journalism in the UK, this one is a shocker if we are supposed to think of it as a serious documentary.  It's here: - Prostitution & the Sex trade in Thailand

Thailand - Sex slavery

Another film that has a real message, it raises important issues and then ruins it all with some sensationalist garbage. Watch it here - Sex slavery

It is true that poverty in Thailand is the reason that many, many women have little choice but to sell their bodies, it is likely that aspects of Buddhist teaching places men above women in the social hierarchy (although I went to a Catholic school so that sounds all too familiar). It is also true that many women are forced into the sex industry.

Regrettably the film starts with an astonishing and palpably inaccurate statistic. It claims that there are one million prostitutes in Thailand "MOST of them as young as 12 years old". The media's obsession with Thailand as a destination for paedophiles is as unhelpful as it is untrue.

If people really want to help the women of Thailand out of poverty, the way to do it is to visit the country, support its tourism and generate economic growth that will provide alternative opportunities for them. Frightening people away with the "pervert's paradise" tag is completely counter productive.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Child trafficking - Pattaya

This short film depicts a Thailand where children are routinely offered to sex tourists on every street corner. Pattaya nightlife is portrayed in a way that suggests flower selling is a cover for the sale of young kids to tourists.

I have visited Thailand on dozens of occasions and have never seen the sort of incident they suggest is commonplace. There is, however, undoubtedly a huge issue and the makers of this film are doing something about it. They run a shelter for vulnerable children, so whilst they paint a picture that i do not recognise, they are doing valuable work. They should be applauded for that.

You can watch this very short film here: You Tube Link  

Enslaved - Human trafficking in Thailand

This is an excellent documentary, seemingly made for Thai nationals but with Englsih sub-titles. It tells the story of three individuals who were tricked into leaving their families for what they thought would be a better life.

There is no journalistic twist, the three victims each tell their own harrowing stories.

Highly recommended.

The film comes in three parts, although the last is less than 90 seconds long.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

The Sex Changers

I have no real knowledge of sex changes. Until i was 16, I believed a school friend who told me that a female to male transition was called a Strapacocktomy.

In this short film Journeyman Pictures manages to suppress its usual instinct to sensationalise. Maybe watching an Aussie outdoors man having a sex change is riveting enough.

Once again they film lengthy interviews in Thai without bothering to provide either sub titles or a voice over translation , but otherwise it's an interesting film.

There are several accounts of foreigners visiting Thailand for this procedure on YouTube. A standard feature is to show the staggeringly beautiful Thais who have undergone the same operation. Regrettably the foreigners may have new parts under their clothes, but afterwards they still look like men with a wig. There must be some westerners out there who look like women afterwards, aren't there?

You can watch the film here: Sex changers