Photo Essay: How the Pandemic Has Affected Sex Workers in Thailand
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
For people in Thailand’s rural, landlocked provinces, the country’s tourist hubs offer high-paying jobs as an alternative to tending rice paddies and digging up cassava roots in the countryside.
These high-paying jobs often concern the world’s oldest profession: sex work.
However, after Thailand closed its borders and cancelled commercial flights due to the global pandemic, the country’s tourism industry collapsed and sex work along with it.
There are estimated to be between 200,000 and a million sex workers in Thailand, and the Thai sex trade is worth USD6.4 billion a year.
Now, many sex workers have chosen or been forced to move back to their home provinces and their families. Others continue to work in red light districts, earning far less than before. Some have started performing through Facebook Live, dancing in front of a camera and hoping to entice a man tuning in from the other side of the world to buy them a shot, paid through PayPal.
This is how they are surviving during the pandemic:
By Allison Joyce
Allison Joyce is an American photojournalist with over a decade of experience working in the United States and internationally. She covers news and human rights stories throughout the region with a special focus on gender issues. In 2019 she was nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass, and her work has been honored with multiple awards, including from POYI (Pictures of the Year International), South Asian Journalists Association and the NYPPA (New York Press Photographers Association). Her work can be seen at www.AllisonJoyce.com