The sex workers of Pattaya are no strangers to arrest, but a new police campaign is going after one group in particular: transgender prostitutes.
As the seaside city attempts to repair its salacious reputation to deter the junta from sending in the soldiers to scour its streets, many ladyboy prostitutes are describing an unprecedented enforcement effort that’s taking them out of circulation.
“We can’t even make a phone call to ask someone to help us out,” a sex worker named Gam told the Bangkok Post. “By the time we get out, we can’t work anymore.”
The police typically release them immediately after they pay a small fine running from THB100 to 500, but now Gam said, they’re not being released until the morning.
The nightly police raids are the first of their kind and are targeted at beachfront areas, according to Sandy, another transgender prostitute who has worked the area for three years. Authorities pay special attention to the infamously seedy Walking Street area, where prostitutes are aplenty.
Police are even engaging the help of foreigner snitches to pose as customers in order to identify sex workers. Arrests for solicitation can only take place when a financial transaction between the two is witnessed.
“They negotiate the price, and once we agree the police reveal themselves to arrest us,” said Som, a ladyboy prostitute who was recently arrested.
After an arrested ladyboy sought help from her, Thitiyanun “Doi” Nakpor, the manager of a health counselling centre for transgenders in Pattaya, confronted police as to why authorities seemed to be targeting only ladyboys.
“It is the NCPO’s policy,” the duty officer replied. “They ordered us, and we implemented the order.”