City groups push for the legalisation of sex work

City groups push for the legalisation of sex work

Women’s rights groups in Bangkok on Wednesday called for the decriminalisation of sex work in the country, along with a range of broader measures supporting women.

Making sex work legal would help ensure those working in the trade would be protected by labour rights, said the groups, which gathered near Government House to mark International Women’s Day.

The groups also called for a doubling of maternity leave to 180 days, and a period leave for workers when they suffer menstrual pains. They also sought financial assistance of 3,000 baht a month for each month of pregnancy, safe and free abortion services, and that March 8 is recognised as a public holiday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha conveyed his best wishes to Thai women and women development advocates on Wednesday via Radio Thailand when he observed the day.

Thailand joined the United Nations’ celebration of this special day by recognising women’s value and integrity, Gen Prayut said. The world body had raised awareness on gender parity and encouraging progress for women’s development in various areas, he said.

A 48-year-old woman, identified only as Pla, took part in Wednesday’s gathering near Government House.

Ms Pla said she has worked in an auto parts factory in Chon Buri for more than 20 years and earns around 20,000 baht a month. She once earned 10,000 baht extra per month from overtime, but that had fallen off since New Year. Ms Pla said she has been forced to tighten her belt to survive.

Several parties took the opportunity to discuss their policies on women for the coming election.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai Party’s chief adviser on public participation and innovation, said the party aims to upgrade the Thai Women Empowerment Funds to boost women’s access to economic opportunities, work skill development, funding sources and women rights protection.

Watanya Bunnag, chief of the Democrat Party’s working group on political innovations, said the party aims to introduce policies and laws to ensure people of all groups are accepted equally.

Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, Thai Sang Thai Party leader, said her party will set up a women’s capacity building centre called Woman Care in all 878 districts across the country to help women improve skills and create jobs.

Narumon Pinyosinwat, the treasurer of the Palang Pracharath Party, said the party is currently tackling social disparities that women face.