A Sad Probably

by Laura on April 18, 2010

Playing at the pool left me feeling sick today.  Sick to my stomach.  Sick to my heart.

We were in a hotel in downtown Chiang Mai to celebrate my husband’s birthday.  While I swam with the kids so that Matt could have some time to himself, I met a man in the pool.  He was Australian, and he was friendly.  He smiled a lot, and he splashed my kids.  Little Ava paddled around him and Cade showed off his kickboard to this middle-aged tourist, while he chatted with me about the city and how hot it’s been.  I told him we had just moved here, and he remarked how the “Thais are so polite” and that “they love blond children,” so he assured me I would enjoy our years here as a family.  I asked him how long he had been visiting the city, when he told me that he didn’t have family here but had been coming to SE Asia for holidays (not business)

by himself

several times a year,

for twenty years.

Twenty years.

And then Matt came out to meet us, and my conversation with this very normal Aussie ended with him waving a “Goodbye and good luck” and swimming away.   

But there wasn’t much good about it. 

Why would a single man visit the same place several times a year for twenty years?  Maybe he is highly interested in elephants or maybe he enjoys the cheap shopping or perhaps he is a sucker for authentic Asian food.  But, I think the greater possibility is that my Australian acquaintance keeps coming back to SE Asia for

cheap sex. 

It’s available.  It’s inexpensive.  It’s considered a “normal” tourist activity.

And it leaves me sickened to think that I didn’t need to go to the “seedy” part of town to rub shoulders with a gentleman who probably participates in the sex industry.  I just went to a nice hotel pool on a Sunday afternoon with my three kids.  And I am reminded that prostitution is just closer in this country.  And I have no answers or solutions, just a bitter taste of the present reality.

I just finished reading an excellent article called The Sex Cafe about sex trafficking at FlowerDust.  Take a minute to check it out, as it talks more about this particular social injustice.

P.S.  I do understand that this particular gentleman may not be a partifcipant in the sex industry here in SE Asia.  Obviously, I do not know and I realize that assuming too much of anyone is not a loving or wise thing to do.  But, unfortunately, I am learning that the man in the pool is an example of the types of men that do come to SE Asia every year, by the thousands, to participate in the sex industry here.  That is a fact.  They are average, normal tourists, and they keep this industry one of the most highly profitable businesses in SE Asia.  I hope you hear that my heart is not to cast judgement on these pages, but it has always been to love and help rescue the girls that are sometimes unwilling victims. 
  • pippi

    I’m sure you are right.

    horrifying.

  • Anomnymous

    Though you may be right, I dont think its very Christian to judge someone that you dont really know. Maybe he comes each year because he truly loves the country and its culture!

    • Laura

      Definitely a good point. And you are right, we shouldn’t judge people’s motives or even actions that we assume they are committing. I just know that statistically speaking, the gentleman was probably here for more than culture. And if it wasn’t that tourist I met at the pool, unfortunately there are thousands more male tourists who DO visit Thailand yearly for the sex industry.

      Thanks for your comment, and for the reminder not to assume too much of others.

  • http://www.tatteredcouch.com Kelley

    Boy, this post sure got me thinking…

    It’s very nice to assume the best of people.

    It’s not safe to always assume the best of people. That’s called misplaced trust. Everyday, Moms have to discern the ‘possibility’ predators that swim around their children. That possibility is always present. Always. No matter how friendly the swimmer.

    This post spoke a possibility that points to a harsh and statistically significant reality. Fact is, we are always surrounded by the Sad Probably. It is foolish to assume otherwise. And, in a culture that currently bases a great portion of its economy on selling children to men who return annually…. um… Christian or unchristian, I’m not seeing your response as judgment. I’d use the words wisely cautious, or discerning.

    I can’t say it enough, Laura. I appreciate that you are speaking what you see, and letting us hear what you think. Raw. Honest. Open.
    Keep going.

  • http://www.warrenbaldwin.blogspot.com Warren Baldwin

    Thanks for your work in Thailand. We pray for the victims of this industry regularly. Glad to know another family and work we can add.

    Are you familiar with the Brewers? They are doing a similar work in Germany. I follow their work, and would be blessed to be able to connect your families.

    God bless.

  • Pingback: Fighting the Sex Industry in Thailand {A Video from CNN} | Laura Parker()

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