Stickman Readers' Submissions May 10th, 2006

The Bargirl’s Lot

They say that it is the oldest profession in the world, so let’s just take a moment to think about it. What other ancient professions are still out there? Well, when JC was born he was visited by shepherds. Since then they have genetically modified flocks ensuring higher yields, farm subsidies and quad bikes. Nowadays the Three Wise Kings would most likely fly ‘Virgin’ vastly cutting down on travel time and arse sores from camel riding. Herod sent soldiers to slay the innocent children. Today’s equivalents have highly nutritious ration packs, high tech weaponry and immunity from prosecution should they choose to abuse prisoners whilst being an officer. So how far has the oldest profession come (no pun intended!)?

Condoms. That’s about it. Still frowned upon by most of society, they remain on the fringe of what the civilized world deems acceptable. Despite over 2000 years of uninterrupted service the average ‘working girl’ has seen little improvement in her chosen profession. The only form of protection that she now can rely on is a thin layer of latex preventing her from being impregnated by the swimmers donated by some asthmatic, overweight and sweaty client.

He Clinic Bangkok

If you read this website regularly you will no doubt hear stories of horror as relayed by some examples of the aforementioned donors. There are very few stories from the ladies here that grant you the chance to corroborate. I am not a bargirl, although if I chose to shave my legs and whack on some lippy I bare a striking resemblance to the ladyboy you see when the hangover clears. To clear things up, I am a single, straight, thirty something western guy who lives and works around the world but mostly in SE Asia.

The type of work that I do means that I spend a great deal of time communicating with people outside of my own culture. It is something I have enjoyed immensely and I have learnt that all have a story to share. I have sat and had dinner with a Grand Wizard from the KKK (wouldn’t have sat down had I known to be honest, he was a total twat), chatted to a guy who was later arrested as a serial killer, out talked Ronald Reagan’s campaign secretary at a function and have had the privilege of spending time with princes and paupers alike. During this time I have conversed with many bargirls and feel it is only right that someone tells a few of their stories.

My first real contact with bargirls was when I ended up in the UAE a few days after the West started bombing Afghanistan. My hotel had a bar on the first floor and as a VIP I was warned by the hotel manager to ‘be careful in there Mr. S’. This naturally rose the curiosity meter and that evening I decided to take a peak. Following dinner I walk in with all the naivety of a chapel monk and wallop, a hand is on my privates within seconds. This young African woman starts saying “You wanna f#@k baby, let’s go upstairs now!”

CBD bangkok

After convincing her that I was not into that kind of thing I bought her a drink and we started to chat. Well, not quite. I drank my beer and she cried. I asked her what was up and how the hell did she end up here. It turns out that all the girls in this bar (and there were a lot of them) had been lured to the UAE with the promise of good honest well paid work in offices and in the service industry. Only they got more than they bargained for. Most were from the less affluent countries (China, Thailand, Russia, most of Africa) and all had the same sad story.

Being tempted by the offer of work they were given a loan from the company so that they could get their passport and flight ticket. On arrival they were told to hand in their passports and were then handed their bill. Next they were informed that the work had recently dried up but they must honor their debts before their 6 month visa expires. “How can I do that?” They would ask, “For I have no money.”

“Ahh well that’s easy” they would say “Simply go with this woman tonight to this bar and she will tell you how to earn the money.” Need I say any more?

Their faces told me that what I heard was the truth. I have never seen such desperation and I felt powerless to help. Certain that I was witnessing legitimate human trafficking I tried to speak to one of the mamasans but they made the Iranian bandits I was working with seem like a bunch of Cabbage Patch Dolls. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I caused too much of a stink then I would get a free one way visit out into the desert, and it wasn’t going to be to play in the sand dunes. When I visited my embassy a few days later I raised the point and whilst they were sympathetic they said that unless the girl was a national from our country then there was nothing they could do. Sadly most of these girls came from places whose embassies were either corrupt or too insignificant to raise their voices.

wonderland clinic

The whole thing was new to me and I left the country 3 months later with a heavy heart and an immense amount of sympathy for these young women whose lives had been destroyed.

Some 3 years later I found myself in the LOS and things had a completely different feel to it. Sure there were sad faces in the crowds, but most of the girls seemed to be making the most of a bad situation and more than a few appeared to love the lifestyle that the oldest profession offered. Like nowhere else their chosen career seemed to hold only a minor stigma, with some girls proudly admitting that they worked in a bar! How different to the complete shame I witnessed but a few years earlier.

Then the bubble burst. The sheer volume of stories I was hearing from farang made me begin to see these girls as some kinds of demons, like angels of misery sweeping through the night streets of Bangkok. Being of a disposition that doesn’t like others to make my mind up for me I went out and started to talk to the girls to try and balance out the stories. The most notable difference between these girls and the ones in the UAE was that they were largely willing participants. OK it may have been a Hobson’s choice, but they had made the choice themselves and knew that they could leave any day providing they hit it lucky. Those other poor souls had no choice in entering the profession and were effectively prisoners.

I met one girl whilst relaxing on Samet. She was there with a customer and seemed so full of life that I got talking to him so that I could find out where she worked. A couple of weeks later I went to her bar; paid the fine and took her to dinner. She was more than happy to tell me about the good stuff but kept very quiet about the bad. We went to dinner a couple of times and she was always surprised when after dinner I suggested she go back to the bar to try and get a customer as I wasn’t with her for her body.

A month later she called me to say that she was ill. I sent a car for her which promptly brought her to my hotel. She was not lying. At best guess I would have said that she had Hepatitis, probably from either her line of work or from drinking the water on the island were we first met. My medical experience told me she had a best 5 days left to live. Her ‘boyfriend’ from the UK had got rid of her the moment she told him she needed money to go to hospital. She confessed that she was going to need to work to get the money for hospital treatment.

I insisted she stay with me in my room for two days whilst I prepared to go into North Korea. She didn’t protest. I worked at my desk whilst she slept. I would wake her to give her some medicine or to feed her. Being an orphan she had no family to dote on her save for a very poor sister back in Isaan. By the time I was due to fly it was clear that her medicine was not working and so I gave her 30,000 baht to go to hospital. At first she would not accept it as we had never had sex and I was not her boyfriend. The only way I could get her to take the money was by telling her that it was a loan and that when I returned from Korea in 8 weeks she could pay me back. I told her that if she didn’t survive (which by that time I believed was a distinct possibility) then all debts would be cancelled. She finally accepted (to my immense relief) and we went off in separate taxis. Mine to the airport and hers to the hospital.

Understandably I didn’t hear from her which is no less than can be expected considering the type of work I do and the country I was doing it in. All I had given her was my return flight number and sure enough, 8 weeks later there she stood with a big bunch of flowers and a huge smile. The relief on my face at seeing her alive caused her to burst into tears and she struggled to tell me that when she got to the hospital the doctors had told her she only had 3 days left to live. The next thing she did was hand me an envelope stuffed full of 500 baht notes and further floods of tears erupted when I admitted that 30,000 baht is a small price to pay to save a friend.

What this singular gesture of kindness did was to unlock all of the girls that worked in her bar. They all thanked me individually for my kindness to a girl that I wasn’t even sleeping with and soon began to tell me their stories. I won’t go into why they were working, I will leave you to figure that one out for yourself. But I will share some of their nightmare experiences.

The first to open up was the young lady who I had helped. She admitted to me that one night she had been bar fined by a guy who seemed really nice. When they got to his room however his 6 friends were waiting and they all took turns at her doing as they pleased. By the end of the night-long ordeal she was left needing stitches and was unable to work for three months. Her accounts of their bravado as they abused her made my blood boil and it was more than I could bear to imagine this petite, pretty young woman being attacked by 7 men.

One of the other girls used to get really nervous whenever I visited with a particular friend of mine. At first she was reluctant to tell me why but finally admitted that he looked just like an English guy who had taken her to his room and then used one of his shoes to beat her. She had missed a month’s work after that one. Her relief at being told that it could not have been my friend as he was not in Thailand at the time was immense and she warmed to him greatly.

Yet another related how one of her customers was so well endowed that she told him she didn’t think it would fit. This was easy to believe as she was built like a 12 year old girl all 4 and a half foot of her. This guy’s response was to punch her in the face until she was dazed and then proceeds to have sex with her twice whilst she cried and begged him to stop. Chills ran down my spine as she described how he kept laughing at her.

Her friend, a tall beautiful woman confessed to me that one customer had tried to insert a drinks bottle inside her and it was only from his sheer drunkenness that she was able to escape his grip and flee the room. I became good friends with this same girl and sometime later enquired as to her whereabouts when I hadn’t seen her for a couple of weeks. I was told that her boyfriend had been in town for a while, got angry with her, hurt her and then ditched the young lass.

I went to her room with a couple of the girls the next day and she showed me the bruises all over her body. When I asked what had happened she told me that he had gone crazy one night saying that she was ‘no good’ and ‘a dirty hooker’ and then beat her before packing his bags and leaving. They had talked on the phone since and they had agreed to give it another go. I had met the guy a couple of times previously and he had struck me as being a bit of a weasel. I suggested that she tell him to meet me in the bar that evening so that I might have a chat with him before he take her out for the night. Needless to say a knee in the back, a painful arm lock and a few stern words in his ear made sure that he wouldn’t hurt her again. What a complete arsehole. He meets his girlfriend in a bar, falls in love with her and then beats her up for being from the bar. Twat.

It seemed that most of the girls hadn’t contacted the police for various reasons. Shame, fear, humiliation or a simple lack of understanding of their rights. Either way, it became fairly apparent to me that all had a nightmare story to tell, or at least knew someone who did. This understanding gave me a balance to the stories I had heard from farang men. All of this from just one bar! Imagine how many untold stories there are along Sukumvit Road alone?

Think about it guys. These girls are doing a tough job. Their friends are being hurt around them. They don’t know who they can trust and everyone is trying to take a piece of them. They are despised by many that they serve and are shunned at home. Sounds a bit like the GIs in the Vietnam War doesn’t it? Only in that instance some of them went into villages and erased them from the map. How many of those brave men are still suffering from the effects of only a year of that madness? Is it any wonder that these girls are tough and take no prisoners?

You know yourself. You know that you are a nice guy and aren’t going to hurt the young darling that you have just picked up. But they don’t know you and so will tell you what you want to hear to make sure you don’t get pissed off and hurt them. In the meantime if you offer them an opportunity to take you to the cleaners then they will take it. By doing that they just might get out of this hell hole a bit quicker.

So, the next time you sneer at a bar girl, or view them with disgust after hearing a story of how ‘bad’ they are, remember this; They might be a little messed up, but that has probably been caused by the system that is being supported by the very same friend who just got f@#ked over by them. You at the end of the day have a choice to make, just like these girls did. Do you get involved in the industry or not? The risks for both parties are high, but so are the rewards. Yes there are girls out there who will dismantle you faster than an F1 pit crew, but there are also guys out there who take pride in their levels of depravity towards women. It is a high stakes game. My advice to all is that if you can’t handle the potential losses, then don’t even attempt to roll the dice.

There are bad apples in every cart. If you hear a few bad stories about bar girls and then view them all as bad isn’t it fair that they do the same back? I mean if my friends had been beaten up by customers it would be easy to view all farang as bad. Yet you know that you are a nice guy; a ‘good apple.’ So by that logic there must be good ones in their cart too? The challenge to you my friend is finding them. If you feel that you are better than these girls then you have a long way to go. Even holding a thought like that shows how little you have moved in this journey through life. After all at the end of the day, they, like you are simply human beings.

Stickman's thoughts:

Of course there are some very bad, and some very sad, stories out there.

What is most unusual about this story is that the girls who were victims in that bar did not go to the police. Thai bargirls will usually go to police that the first sign of trouble. Most know that if they need police assistance in a complaint against a foreigner, they will get it. That is a VERY badly managed bar. Any mamasan or bar manager would have told them exactly what to do.

nana plaza