MP Calls for Legalizing Brothels ‘to Reduce Rape’

A photo of Nana Plaza, the self-proclaimed "world's largest adult playground." Image: Blemished Paradise

BANGKOK — Fully legal brothels should be introduced to combat sex crimes, a government coalition lawmaker said Wednesday.

Thai Civilized Party leader Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, who also chairs the House Committee on sexual violence, said brothels and sex shops would help potential offenders “release their manhood. But the director of an organization that asists rape victims criticized Mongkolkit’s remark as ignorant and misleading.

“We must understand that humans are born to procreate. The laws and prohibitions came after. Morality came after,” Mongkolkit said. “Most rape cases occurred because men have no venue for release of manhood.”

Apart from his proposal to legalize brothels and sex shops, the 38-year-old politician said male bed-ridden patients should be given sexual services that would release their libido. He also said decriminalizing brothels would help eliminate the culture of bribery within the law enforcement.

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Mongkolkit backed his argument by citing Switzerland’s liberal policies on prostitution as a successful model to reduce sexual crimes.

His proposal came after years of campaigning by several NGOs, including a sex worker advocate group, to decriminalize and regulate Thailand’s notorious sex industry, which remains illegal despite its global reputation.

But a director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation said Mongkolkit’s proposal would not do much, because rapes are rooted in patriarchy and sexist cultures that dominate Thai society.

“It stems from the attitude that men are powerful,” Jaded Chouwilai, whose group renders help to victims of sexual violence, said in an interview. “If we want to solve it, our outdated school curriculum that teaches women are housewives must be changed. People must be taught how to respect women,”

While Jaded said he supports legalizing of sex work as long as the businesses are restricted in certain areas, he said priority should be given to protecting the sex workers and not only benefiting owners of the establishments.

According to statistic published by the police, nearly 1,700 rape complaints were filed in 2019, but experts say the actual figures far exceed the official numbers, as many victims chose not to seek legal action.

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