“Invisible Generation” – young sex-workers

Dear Friends For Life:   Toward the end of last year, I had the opportunity to attend several HIV/AIDS conferences in Thailand. The conferences were more or less what I had expected, many speakers leaving behind more problems than solutions. However, the trip was not a complete loss. One evening a good friend of mine, an Italian missionary priest dedicated to working with HIV/AIDS children, gave me a on-site tour of young people and the sex industry in Bangkok, the icon of many Asian cities facing the same problem.

The sex industry produces an alarming number of sex workers throughout Southeast Asia and the spread of HIV/AIDS is increasing at an alarming speed. I was able to observe firsthand a mixture of male, female, transgender, and “ladyboy” workers from go-go dance bars and beer bars. To this day, I can still visualize the huge number roaming the streets in one district. Poverty-stricken young men and women in Thailand are often drawn to sex work in order to support families back home, but the main reason is the money is more lucrative than other types of work available to them. In the crowd around me that evening was an atmosphere of laughter, but the eyes of many were sad, expressing a pain in their lives due to the situation they find themselves. I still picture one young girl that evening sitting next to me at one of the bars with a permanent smile on her face but her sad eyes staring out into space. My heart went out to her, but a language barrier prevented any communication. A young soul trapped by her environment. I was told that sex workers continually move from bar to bar, go from one area of Thailand to another, some get sick, some go to jail and some get married to foreigners and leave the country.

As we left the go-go dance bar, the young girl was standing off to one side, and, as I caught her eye, she gave me a small hidden goodbye wave at the hip and blended into the crowd. I still struggle with this brief encounter. I am angry at the sex industry destroying the lives of these “invisible young people”. No Thai girl or boy dreams of becoming a prostitute. No one dreams of selling their body for a living. Most work the job purely out of economic necessity.

Poverty-stricken areas, like Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines for example, are a breeding grounds for the sex tourist bars of Southeast Asia. Returning many times to this brief experience, my mind continues to ponder “what is happening to humanity”: abortion and unborn babies, euthanasia and the elderly, sex industry and young people. Where is God’s Kingdom? Where are God’s people? Where is the Culture of Life?

God Bless,
Jerry Novotny, OMI

 

Links:

Recent Pro Life Newsletter + Archives

LifeIssues.net Website (in English)

Japan-lifeissues.net Website (in Japanese)

Catholic Asia-Pacific Coalition on HIV/AIDS Website

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