Thailand: Sex Tourism, Exploited Women

The vast economic disparities between Thai locals and Thailand's tourists have long enabled affluent foreigners to request massages with "happy ending specials" or "rent a girlfriend/boyfriend" for a holiday. Now, the global economic crisis has spawned a more twisted form of entertainment. Unlike brothels or strip clubs, "ping pong shows" do not lure clients through promises of sexual arousal, but promises of sexual perversion and sexual torture. One older woman with a scar across her belly from a c-section confides after her freak show performance, "I don't like being here because I feel dirty." She adds, "I left my village when my factory closed."

Nobody knows exactly when Ping-Pong Shows began and Thai women were reduced to circus animals, but these shows are increasingly raunchy and dangerous as tourists' threshold for shock increases. "Thailand: Sex Tourism, Exploited Women" exposes how the economic crisis has changed the nature of sex tourism in Thailand. This is a story where the messy intersection of class, race and sexuality are taken to their disturbing, but logical, extremes.

Global Recession Boosts Child Prostitution and Trafficking

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is booming in Southeast Asia, with governments failing to do enough to protect young people, experts say.

"The recent economic downturn is set to drive more vulnerable children and young people to be exploited by the global sex trade," Carmen Madrinan, executive director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual purposes (ECPAT), said.

Audio Slideshow: Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Thailand

Deena Guzder, for the Pulitzer Center

Thailand is often called the "Land of Smiles" and considered a tropical paradise full of friendly, spiritual locals eager to share their unique cuisine and pristine beaches. However, Thailand's elaborate culinary feats and sun-washed beachfronts are not the only reason why the country has become the playground of the rich and elite of the world. Conservative estimates suggest that 10% of tourist dollars are spent on the sex trade.

A Move to Register Sex Offenders Globally

While the world's attention was focused on Phillip Garrido, who is accused of abducting 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 and holding her hostage for 18 years as a sex slave, three other alleged sexual predators were quietly brought back to the United States to face prosecution for abusing countless children in Cambodia. The horrifying ordeal of Garrido's victim is now well documented; however, the stories of an estimated 1.8 million other children worldwide who are forced into the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade every year remain largely unheard.