Photo Edit for NPR: How The Pandemic Has Upended The Lives Of Thailand's Sex Workers
Jan 24, 2022
Photography by @allisonsarahjoyce Allison Joyce
Story by Aurora Almendral
Published February 3, 2021
According to government data analyzed by Dr. Yongyuth Chalamwong, research director for the Thailand Development Research Institute, an estimated 1.6 million people have returned from Thailand's tourist areas to the countryside. Those who found a way to stay — by piling into shared rented rooms, sleeping in hallways and cutting their meals to one or two a day — are barely hanging on.
N., 28, who asked that only her first initial be used, says that before the pandemic, "the men would just walk in." They'd buy the women drinks, for which they would earn a 50-baht ($1.60) commission. Perhaps a patron might hire one of them for the evening. On a good night, these sex workers could make as much as 3,000 to 6,000 baht, $100 to $200.
The night before, a Friday, most of them had made no money at all.
They were all working harder and earning less, N. says. There were about a dozen women at each of the Soi 6 bars that managed to stay open, fewer than before, but far outnumbering the foreign customers, most of whom were expats living in Pattaya or visitors from Bangkok.
Read the full story at NPR.org
Thank you to Allison Joyce, Aurora Almendral, Marc Silver, Malaka Gharib, Xueying Chang, Ben de la Cruz and Nicole Werbeck