PREMARITAL AND EXTRAMARITAL SEX IN THAILAND: DOUBLE STANDARDS AND GENDER STEREOTYPES

THAILAND’S DOUBLE STANDARD ON SEXUALITY AND GENDER STEREOTYPES

There is a tradition of powerful men having many mistresses in Thailand. In the 2001 Time sex survey 58 percent of males and 26 percent of females answered yes when asked if they had every been unfaithful. For a long time women’s groups have campaigned for a criminal law that explicitly condemns polygamy.

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand: “ One of the most consistent findings from sex research in Thailand is that minor wives and commercial sex are common sexual outlets for men of all ages, social standings, and marital statuses. This tolerance of married men's extramarital sex is merely a part of the larger double standard regarding sexual practices, which mandates different rules for men and for women. As confirmed by studies on child-rearing practices, Thai parents train girls more strictly than boys in the behaviors that are part of the gender roles. Girls are taught that a good woman remains a virgin until marriage and continues to be emotionally and sexually faithful to her husband afterwards. As adolescents, Thai fathers are known for being particularly protective and possessive of their daughters, exercising great control over their friendships with other teenage boys. For boys, however, sexual abandon is accepted or even encouraged. As Sukanya Hantrakul notes: “Culturally, Thai society flatters men for their promiscuity.... Women's magazines always advise women to tolerate the situation and accommodate themselves to it.” [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“This double standard in sexual practices may have culminated into an undercurrent of tension between the genders which, although not readily observable, has been felt and noted by many. Some mistrust and suspicion between the genders can be seen in the negative stereotypes men hold for women, and vice versa. For example, women are stereotyped as emotionally volatile and needy, and they are often manipulative; a Thai proverb notes that the typical Thai woman, while maintaining the kulasatrii appearance, possesses “one hundred wagons full of stratagems.” Conversely, many women believe that men are often unreliable, unable to have an emotional commitment, inefficient in household management and parenting, and constantly driven by their sexual urges. Many women believe that while men get emotional support and recreation from their male peers, relationships with women exist mostly to fulfill the men's sexual desires, as well as the societal expectations on the men to have a family. However, the men's sexual desires are often perceived as insatiable, with an immature, uncontrollable character like a child's craving - yet “naturally” and “instinctually” driven in a way that can hardly be limited to their spouses. As men continue to search for sexual gratification from commercial sex and minor wives, women unwillingly come to terms with the men's extramarital escapades. [Ibid]

“The myth that men's sexual desires are boundless and immutable is quite pervasive. It is common to hear Thai women voice their concern about being raped. When activists demanded that commercial sex be eradicated, respectable men and women have publicly expressed the concern that “good women” would be endangered. Similarly, before HIV became a widespread concern in the Thai society, married women sometimes encouraged their husbands to visit sex workers, in part so they could be relieved of the obligation to serve their husband's sexual demands, and possibly to prevent the husband's worse crime of having a stable, emotionally committed relationship with a minor wife. These examples may reflect Thai women's helplessness regarding the men's presumably uncontrollable sexual drive, and consequently, their strategies to protect themselves and preserve their marriages. More recent surveys have found that married women in the HIV epidemic face an even more difficult dilemma as they realize that they are at risk for HIV infection from their husbands' use of commercial sex. Encouraging the husband to have a minor wife as an alternative is still a painful decision for a woman to make. [Ibid]

Adolescent Sexual Behavior of Thai Boys: First Time Often with a Prostitute

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : Numerous studies up to the mid-1990s have shown that about half of Thai men have sexual intercourse before they are 18 years old, and that most of them have their first experience with a commercial sex worker. Justified as a way of preserving the virtue of “good women,” Thai adolescents seek premarital sexual experience from commercial sex workers. Prior to the HIV epidemic, there was virtually no stigma attached to this practice. Sex with a sex worker has often been considered a rite of passage and an accepted manner of learning about sex for young men. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“Some Thai fathers were known to pay sex workers to have sex with their sons as a way of giving their youngsters some sex education or acknowledging their adulthood. In primarily male colleges, senior students welcomed freshmen, most of whom had no prior sexual experience, by accompanying them to the local brothel or bars/cafes which offer commercial sex. In the contemporary Thai society where increasingly fewer men are interested in the Sangha, the young men's use of sexual intercourse as a rite of passage seems like a symbolic commentary on how the male image has drifted further away from the monastic role in the direction of worldliness. [Ibid]

“Thai male adolescents eagerly look forward to their first intercourse and, as its slang term (khuen khruu) roughly implies, a learning process with someone sexually experienced. For many young Thai men, this practice continues beyond their first sexual experience, and commercial sex becomes a bachelor's recreation. In fact, the phrase pai thiow, meaning “to go out for fun,” is a euphemism for a visit to the brothel. Going to a brothel with friends is a social as well as a sexual experience, often occurring after an evening of drinking or social gathering. Young men who do not seem interested in joining their peers at a brothel are sometimes teased for being homosexual. This pattern of sexual behavior in young Thai men will be confirmed by more findings reviewed in the section on the premarital sex of adults. [Ibid]

Adolescent Sexual Behavior of Thai Girls: Expected to Stay Virgins

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : “On the other hand, young women are supposed to be virgins until they are married. Sex is thus not a recreational option for unmarried women as it is for men. Violation of this rule occurs in the cases of prostitutes and “carefree women.” A “carefree woman,” or an unmarried woman who seeks sexual pleasure from casual partners, is stereotyped as shallow, emotionally disturbed, and self-destructive. She presumably has lost her virginity because she was amoral, careless, gullible, or blindly following the Western code of sexual behavior. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“Needless to say, sex before marriage for women is the key criterion that distinguishes a “bad woman” from a “good woman.” Female sex workers are subject to the same stereotype, but perhaps to a lesser degree, possibly because they are perceived to be forced into commercial sex by poverty. In addition, the kulasatrii notion mostly pertains to the upper and middle classes (Pyne 1994), and thus has less to do with the lower-class origin of most sex workers. Despite such class difference, the kulasatrii status is much like the Buddhist concept of merit in that it is based on the person's conduct, not on the social standing per se, and it is subject to decline for any transgression. Inasmuch as social mobility and merit accumulation are afforded everyone in Thailand (although perhaps not with equal ease), every woman, every kulasatrii can fall from grace if her conduct is compromised. Therefore, gender segregation, the stringent rules of kulasatrii, and strict parental supervision all are useful mechanisms for maintaining the virtue of “good” women. [Ibid]

“In keeping with the value on women's virginity, the Thai culture prescribes that romantic relationships between young men and women must be without sex. In general, young people in Thailand today choose their own romantic partner, although parents exercise sanctions on their choice and limit their premarital sexual interaction. As a man and a woman enter a purely romantic premarital relationship, they are known as being each other's fan, an originally English term used in Thai with a different connotation. When in a relationship, many young women start to act as if they are practicing the traditional gender script of husband and wife (without the sex) by adopting a more submissive and deferential role with their fan. Even under such a non-sexual premise, many young Thai lovers are still very reluctant to reveal that they have a fan to parents or adults for fear of disapproval. In the conservative middle-class ethics, romantic interest is inappropriate for adolescents because they cannot support themselves. Many young lovers simply refer to their fan as a male or a female friend. This reluctance to disclose romantic relationships remains in many married adults, who refer to a spouse as a fan even after years of marriage.” [Ibid]

Good Studies on Beliefs of Thai Teenagers About Sex and Romance

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : “In an exceptional study of adolescence, Chompootaweep et al. (1991) randomly surveyed secondary-level schools in Bangkok and collected questionnaires from 4,337 students (mean age = 14.7) and 454 teachers. Both male and female students reported that the best age to develop a romantic relationship was 18 to 20 years of age, in contrast to the ages 21 to 25, which their teachers thought was the appropriate age to start romantic relationships. This demonstrates the intergenerational difference in attitude toward adolescent romantic relationships; Thai teachers, like Thai parents, see romance between adolescents as precocious and inappropriate. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“Fifty-five percent of the male students subscribed to the idea that men should have some sexual experience before getting married, while only 24 percent of the female students thought this was appropriate for men. Among the teachers, 74 percent of the male teachers and 58 percent of the female teachers endorsed men's premarital sexual experience. A double standard was clearly illustrated, as only 15 percent of both male and female participants endorsed premarital sex for women. In terms of sexual behavior, 12 percent of the male students and only 1 percent of the female students reported having had intercourse.” [Ibid]

These observations have been further confirmed in another excellent study (Ford and Kittisuksathit 1994) which we have cited throughout this chapter. In this study, qualitative data were obtained from focus groups with young factory workers (ages 15 to 24) whose socioeconomic status was more representative of the general Thai youth populations than high-school or college samples. Sexual desire was perceived by both young men and women to be a male attribute. The young men openly expressed their sexual feelings and experiences; the young women felt ashamed of their sexual curiosity and thought women should wait until they were older and married before they found out about sex. [Ibid]

“In the minds of the young men, sexual intercourse seemed like an adventure, a gain, a forceful act, or an act of satisfying one's greed. Some slang terms used by the young men for sexual intercourse can be roughly translated to “taking,” “earning,” “playing,” “grinding,” “gobbling,” and “poking the yolk.” On the contrary, sexual intercourse was seen by the young women as a loss of their body/self (sia tua), and women who have lost their virginity were seen as “impure,” “soiled,” or “tarnished.” In addition, there is a belief that a forbidden sexual experience can predispose a young woman to becoming sexually out of control, (jai taek), especially if the liaison ends with the man deserting her. Such a woman might turn into a “carefree woman” or even a prostitute. [Ibid]

“In addition to demonstrating a double standard among Thai adolescents, Chompootaweep et al. (1991) also found that the gender and sexual attitudes of Thais in the same urban environment differed as a function of their ages. The young factory workers in Ford and Kittisuksathit's study (1994) pointedly articulated this sense of being in the midst of social transformation. Repeatedly referring to “[things are] different today,” these adolescents were acutely aware of their living in a period in which sexual constructions were rapidly changing from the clear prescriptions of the “traditional” norms to the more amorphous and perplexing “modern” ways. [Ibid]

Premarital Sex and Maritial Among Adult Thais

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : The Survey of Partner Relations and HIV Infection (Sittitrai et al., 1992; referred to hereafter as “the Partner Relations Survey”) is a large population-based study, which examined sexual attitudes and behaviors among 2,801 men and women. Currently married men reported an average of 30.2 premarital sexual partners. Never-married men reported an average of 14.3 premarital sexual partners. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“The picture was completely different for women, who reported little or no premarital sexual experiences, with means of 0.03 and 0.01 premarital sexual partners for married women and never-married women, respectively. This gender difference again reflects a double standard on premarital sex for men and women. Although the extent of reporting biases could not be determined, as in most sex surveys, the social-desirability biases could have influenced men to over-report and/or women to under-report their premarital sexual experiences. The biases, if there were any, did indeed reflect the double standard that promotes premarital sex in men and discourages it in women.” [Ibid]

Premarital Sex Among Thai Men

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : Many researchers have studied Thai military conscripts in order to describe the sexual behaviors of the general populations of young Thai men. Thai men ages 20 to 22, who are not in higher education, are inducted to the Royal Thai Army by lottery; randomly selected samples therefore provide an excellent representation of men in the lower socioeconomic strata of Thai society. In a study of conscripts from northern Thailand in 1990 and 1991, 97 percent of these 21-year-old men reported having had sexual intercourse, with about 54 percent reporting having the first intercourse before the age of 16. The first sexual intercourse for 74 percent of the men was with a female sex worker, compared to 12 percent with a lover, and 8 percent with a girlfriend. A majority of men, 90 percent, had had sex with a female sex worker, mostly starting between the ages of 15 to 18. By the age of 16, about half of the sample had had their first visit to a female sex worker. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“Until AIDS became a widespread anxiety in the mid-1990s, commercial sex had been the primary sexual outlet for Thai bachelors, justified as a means of protecting virtuous Thai women from premarital sex. For Thai male adults, the use of commercial sex continues in the same way as it began in adolescence, only with less economic restriction. Taking care of men's sexual needs by offering services from a sex worker is considered part of hospitality in many business dealings. Upon arrival in a new city, traveling men or male tourists often make a point of visiting local brothels or erotic massage parlors as local attractions. [Ibid]

“This picture may, however, be changing with a new generation of Thais due to several factors. Young women have been found to be more likely to engage in premarital sexual activity than the previous generations. Western culture, as perceived and interpreted through the Thai eyes, has been implicated in this change over the last few decades. More recently, it has also been attributed to the men's heightened fear of HIV. As prevention campaigns have publicized high rates of HIV infection among female sex workers, Thai men have become more wary of visiting professional sex workers. For example, a decrease in the use of commercial sex workers among the northern Thai conscripts, for example, has been documented over the few years prior to 1996. [Ibid]

“In response to the worries about AIDS and commercial sex, Thai men have turned to a number of other ways of fulfilling their sexual desires. While many Thai men have become less sexually active, others, especially those in the urban middle-class settings, have been paying for sex with non-professional sex workers who are not in the sex establishments. Others turn to the big-city singles or nightlife scenes for casual sex with pick-up partners. Finally, there is a growing number of men who have sex with their girlfriends in the context of a committed romantic relationship. Helped by the anonymity of big cities and the widely available contraceptive methods, there are increasing number of cohabitating couples, much to the chagrin of conservatives who are concerned with the virtue of Thai women. Although this phenomenon has been consistently observed in recent studies (e.g., Nelson et al. 1996), many researchers feel that there is much resistance from the Thai public, who are not quite ready to formally approve of these unmarried sexual couples. [Ibid]

Premarital Sex Among Thai Women

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : “Thai women, not unlike those in many other cultures, take risks in having sexual experience. In addition to concerns about pregnancy and health, they face the risks of stigmatization for losing their virginity outside a marriage. As many sex workers have reported, because an unmarried woman's virtue is eminently tied to her virginity, a woman who has lost her virginity has nothing to lose in choosing the path of commercial sex (Thorbek 1988). Other women keep their premarital sexual experience a secret, although the psychological repercussions may continue. A small number of women who are neither secretive nor disturbed by their premarital sex are suspected to have had a “bad influence” from Western culture, or are pathologized as sensation-seeking, promiscuous, or morally corrupt. The expressions which characterize women who seek sexual gratification with little restraint are jai ngaai (“feeble mind/heart”), and jai taek (“broken mind/heart”), suggesting that the women are morally corrupt or out of control. Together, the non-professional women who exchange sex for money and the “carefree” single women in the urban nightlife and singles scenes are categorized as ying ruk sanuk, or “fun-loving women,” or the slang kai long, or “stray chicken.” These “depraved” women are seen as “only good for sex but not suitable for being the mother of your children.” [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

In spite of the blame on Western influence, the image of “bad” women who seek sexual pleasures is not new. Kirsch (1985) has observed that in the nineteenth century, King Mongkut characterized “spinsters and divorcees” as “artful women” who viewed monks as “fattened hogs” (i.e., potential husbands); monks exposed to such women's seduction “are likely to be driven crazy by their new found love”. Similarly, Penny Van Esterik (1982) has found that some lay villagers were suspicious of mae chii (female ascetics) who lived near the temples in which monks resided. She further cites a story recorded by Attagara about a woman who dressed up as a mae chii and seduced a local abbot who was so ashamed of his weakness that he held his breath and died. A line in the Jataka tales (tales about the Buddha's past lives) says that “Women desire rich lovers like cows seeking new pastures”. These illustrations suggest that women who did not fit the model of motherhood, like unmarried women, divorcées, or mae chii, might have always been viewed with suspicion, with a projection of the male-typical boundless and uncontrollable sexual desires on to them.

In addition to the well-known “bad woman” stereotype and the kulasatrii ideal, there is yet another type of women in the Thai consciousness, namely the widows. (Although this word in Thai can also refer to divorced women, this discussion pertains only to women whose husbands are deceased). Mostly of middle- and lower-class social strata, many widows seem to be less bound by the conservatism of a kulasatrii, yet they are not stigmatized as depraved. Because a widow presumably has had sexual experience in her prior marriage, virginity no longer is an issue of virtue for her. Therefore, she can seek sexual pleasure without severe social stigma, given that, of course, scandals such as affairs with married men or pregnancy out of wedlock are avoided. With the exception of female sex workers, widows seem to be the only women in Thai society “allowed” to have sex outside of marriage. In literature, jokes, and popular song lyrics, widows are portrayed as temptresses: straightforward about their sexual interest - often toward younger men - witty and flirtatious, exuberantly sensual and seductive, and well versed in their sexual practices. To many heterosexual male adolescents, an idealized fantasy of their first sexual experience is an encounter with such a woman who is sexually disinhibited, yet not a sex worker. The Thai culture seems to have an alternative for a woman to be sexually active with less reservations, but she needs to have lost a husband who had introduced her to the joy of sex.

Extramarital Sex in Thailand: Mostly By Men and How Wives Deal with It

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : The Partner Relations Survey by Werasit Sittitrai and his colleagues (1992) found that 31 percent of urban male participants and 12 percent of rural male participants - 17 percent overall - reported having had sex outside their relationship in the previous twelve months. The data from women were quite different: only 1 percent of the urban female participants and 0.7 percent of the rural female participants - 0.9 percent overall - reported sex outside their relationship in the previous twelve months. The remarkable gender difference in extramarital sex in these findings will be more extensively discussed below. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“Despite the historical acceptance, male polygamy is no longer legally or socially acceptable in the contemporary Thai society. However, the tradition continues in modern days in a more secretive fashion. Whereas a “virtuous woman” or kulasatrii (see traditional female gender role) must remain faithful to her husband, there were no equivalent rules in history mandating fidelity in the “virtuous man.” In fact, upper-class Thai men were historically known to maintain mansions with a co-residence of multiple wives and their children. Among the royalty and courtiers in the past, wives were classified as principal, secondary, and slave (Pyne 1994). Today, the tradition of “minor wives” still remains, but the practice is different from that of the past. Also, due to the expense involved, minor wives are mostly limited to the wealthy men, although Thorbek (1988) has also documented the practice in men of lower socioeconomic strata. [Ibid]

“Euphemistically called having a “little home,” the practice of keeping a minor wife usually occurs today in secrecy from the “primary wife,” and minor wives rarely share the home with the man and his family as in the old days. While almost all married women today object to this practice, and indeed for many it has been grounds for divorce, other women learn to cope with their anger and emotional betrayal. Minor wives are viewed with contempt by the Thai society along the lines of being amoral women or home breakers. They do not achieve social or legal recognition as a spouse. A Thai phrase “drinking water from underneath someone else's elbow” illustrates the humiliation and powerlessness of a minor wife, often used to deter young women from considering a relationship with a married male suitor. [Ibid]

“Frustrated with the husband's infidelity, potential or real, some married women have been taught by older women and sex journalists to break out of the conservative sexual norms of a kulasatrii by adopting the dual role of “a kulasatrii outside the bedroom, and a prostitute inside.” Extramarital sex for a married woman is, however, not a viable option. In a seminar with participants from rural villages in northern Thailand, men told Pacharin Dumronggittigule and her colleagues (personal communication 1995) that if a woman had more sexual desire than her husband could satisfy, she should “hit her feet with a hammer,” indicating their belief that the use of drastic means was needed to suppress women's sexual desires. In a folk-tale epic, Khun Chaang, Khun Phaen, the heroine, Wanthong, was persecuted for being torn between her relationships with the two male protagonists. Although women today are not persecuted as was Wanthong, her tragic fate reflects the society's clear prohibitive rule against women's emotional and sexual infidelity.” [Ibid]

Extramarital Sex, Prostitutes, Alcohol and Tired, Irritable Wives

According to Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand : “Whereas minor wives are the secret sexual indulgence for wealthy men, sex with commercial sex workers is widely accepted by almost all male adults, regardless of age, socioeconomic class, or marital status. After marriage, Thai men seem be monogamous with their wives for a period of time, although the duration of this monogamy has not been investigated. A great number, however, resume their use of commercial sex, often in the context of all-male, “husbands' night out” socialization with their peers. [Source: Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Thailand (Muang Thai) by Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep, M.D., M.A., Eli Coleman, Ph.D. and Pacharin Dumronggittigule, M.Sc., late 1990s; www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/thailand

“Dumronggittigule and her colleagues (1995) examined the married men's use of commercial sex by conducting focus groups with married villagers in northern Thailand. They found that the cultural processes behind this phenomenon were different from the processes for the Thai bachelors. Thai men visit commercial sex workers after socializing with male friends, a pattern established since the start of their experience with commercial sex. For married men's gatherings, women are not necessarily precluded from the social gatherings, as the meals are often prepared by women, but excessive alcohol consumption and gambling repel women from further participation. Married men reported that their sexual desires are enhanced due to the alcohol and the sex talk among the men. Married women, on the contrary, reported that after a long day of work outside and inside the home, they were not sexually thrilled by their husbands' drunken manners and alcohol smells, and many refused to have sex. Other couples reportedly avoided this conflict by having an a priori agreement that the husbands could take their sexual desire elsewhere. [Ibid]

“Moreover, the villagers reported other common causes of diminished sexual attraction within the couple. Women reported that the strenuous work inside and outside the home caused them to be exhausted, irritable, and uninterested in sex, and their husband's drinking and gambling with male friends did not help. Men, on the other hand, commented on their wife's homely appearance, angry temperament, and sexual unresponsive-ness, all of which made them turn to drinking, gambling, and commercial sex as recreation. As this spiral of blame and self-defense continued, conflicts and resentment grew. Following what they had seen in other couples, many women decided that consenting to their husband's use of commercial sex could relieve this dilemma. Thus, the use of commercial sex by married men is often consented to or known by their wives. For both men and women, the husband's extramarital sex is not a cause of marital conflicts, but an attempted solution designed to preserve their marriage. [Ibid]

“Married women, therefore, do not simply consent to their husband's use of commercial sex because “Thai people have permissive attitudes men's extramarital sex,” as is often quoted. In the same study cited above, Dumronggittigule and colleagues (1995) used anonymous questionnaires to collect data from 170 married couples in the villages. They found feelings of frustration, worry, and helplessness among the women who believed their husbands had regular sex with sex workers. Almost all the married women objected to their husband visiting sex workers. Ninety-one percent of these women had asked their husband to refrain from such behavior, but 47 percent of the women believed their husbands would visit or had visited sex workers. Although they felt vulnerable to HIV infection, these married women still did not think that their husband would respond to their fears. Instead, these women would rather protect themselves from HIV by having protected sex with their husbands; 83 percent reported they would be willing to have their husbands use condoms with them. The women's interest in self-protection, however, might not lead to an actual prevention; most couples had never used condoms with each other and were unlikely to change upon the women's requests. [Ibid]

“The use of alcohol is a regular part of Thai culture and tradition despite the prohibition in the Buddhist Fifth Precept. Many male adolescents in northern Thailand begin drinking commercially produced whiskey or village-prepared liquor at the age of 14 or 15. They will often drink alcohol with a few friends and go as a small group to have sex with sex workers (van Landingham et al. 1993). Adolescent girls will often start drinking at the age of 17 or 18. They are more likely to drink when there are parties as part of a celebration. Drinking and sex in combination is a common way for adolescents to be sexual with one another (Nopkesorn, Sweat, Kaensing, and Teppa 1993). Thai men often report that alcohol makes them “horny,” although using condoms is usually more difficult in an intoxicated state. Data confirm that alcohol use does interfere with the use of condoms in the commercial sex settings.” [Ibid]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Page Top

© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from factsanddetails.com, please contact me.