Now let’s do some basic math. One of the most popular bars charge their girls 3000 baht a night which equates to about $97. There are 31 days in January. Her total bar fine for the month of January is 97,000 baht or $3000. She must pay this amount before she even begins to make any money. No customers? Doesn’t matter to the bar, she still owes them 3000 baht. What happens if she doesn’t pay? No worries, they will keep a running tab for her. This is how they begin to own her. So how is she paid? She gets 30% of the cut of her customer’s bar tab. The incentive is to get the men to buy her drinks and run up his tab. She must sell 10,000 baht in drinks or $323 each night just to cover her bar fine. Any fee she negotiates with her customer is all hers. Here’s what people don’t understand, she is often taken advantage of by her customers. She performs the agreed upon act and then he doesn’t pay her. Who does she complain to because technically prostitution is illegal in Thailand? Many times she is beaten and is thankful just to escape with her life much less worry about getting paid. Or sometimes the guy has no money.
As I sat there and heard the numbers and started figuring out what the pay structure looked like, I realized this truly is slavery. The cards are stacked against her and she is destined to fail. When women leave the bar life to work at Samaritan Creations, they pay her back bar fines to get her out. The largest fine they have had to pay? 50,000 baht or $1612. It’s either pay the bar fine and get her a new life or let her stay there and get further in debt. One thing that has become more evident to me on this trip is without help most women will never get out. I am thankful for ministries like Samaritan Creations who go into the red light district week after week and do the work others won’t. Building relationships and fighting for each woman is hard work and I am honored that The Marketplace gets to partner with them to bring lasting change.