Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)




Prostitution is illegal in Thailand, yet estimates of the number of sex workers and Thai male patronage of the sex industry indicate widespread tolerance of the skin trade. Placed in the second tier of the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked into sexual exploitation and labor. This study offers a sociological, cultural, and jurisprudential analysis of the historic relationship between public policy and the Thai prostitution industry, placing/our months of field experience in Northern Thailand, the weekly columns of sex tourists "Stickman" and Bernard Trink, Royal Thai Police arrest and conviction statistics, the developing Thai constitution, and national historical records next to one another. Topics discussed include the impact of folk Buddhism, the Viet Nam War, globalization, industrialization, urbanization, corruption, and democratic reform on the landscape of the Thai sex and sex tourism industry. This thesis concludes that the prostitution industry's growth has outpaced Thailand's ability to articulate a well-coordinated social and political response, even as Thailand's position in Southeast Asia grants it the capacity to lead the region in new and successful anti-trafficking efforts.