Sex Crimes in Thailand
Thailand has a reputation of being a place of sexual freedom. The reality is that most Thai people are very conservative and modest. However, there are some red light areas which cater to a particular segment of tourists, foreign expats, and Thai men. In these businesses, sexual morality is flouted and sex oriented businesses are opened such as go-go bars, body non-traditional massage parlors, and bathing clubs. While go-go bars, massage parlors, and bathing clubs are not illegal, the sale of sexual services are illegal. Title IX of the Thai Criminal Code outlines a series of sex related crimes that may place those who commits the offenses in Thai jail.
The first offense is outlined in Section 276 covers unwanted sexual intercourse through threats, physical harm, or exploitation. The punishment for this crime is imprisonment from four to twenty years and a fine of eight to forty thousand baht. If a weapon is used, the punishment is raised to fifteen years to life imprisonment. This offense covers violations to a man or a woman and also covers crimes where offender and victim are married.
If the offender and victim are married, the court may inflict a penalty less than that is required by law if the victim decides to remain married. If the victim wants to get a divorce, the public prosecutor will initiate divorce proceedings for the victim.
Sexual Intercourse with a Minor
Section 277 explicitly states that sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 15 who is not the wife or husband shall be liable for imprisonment from four to twenty years. Children cannot consent to sexual intercourse and it is not an excuse. If the child is under the age of 13, the term of imprisonment increases from seven to twenty years. If the crime was committed using the threat of a weapon, the offender will be given the potential penalty of life imprisonment.
Anyone who commits an act of indecency toward a child under the age of 15 shall be liable for imprisonment for up to ten years and a fine of twenty thousand baht. If the act of indecency was commit through threats or fraud, the offender will be liable for imprisonment of up to fifteen years. If the act of indecency cause bodily harm, the possible imprisonment can be up to twenty years for physical harm and life imprisonment if the child dies.
Under Section 282, anyone who procures, seduces, or takes a male or female for the purpose of indecency with a third person, irrespective of consent, is liable for imprisonment from one year to ten years and a fine of two thousand to twenty thousand baht. If the offense is for a person under the age of eighteen but over fifteen, the period of imprisonment is from three to fifteen years. In addition, whoever receives the person procured, seduced, or taken in order to gratify the sexual desires of another shall be liable for the same punishment.
Under Section 283, if the above is complete through deceitful means, threatening, doing harm, influencing with unjust power, or extortion, the minimum penalty shall be five years to twenty years. If the victim is over fifteen but under eighteen years of age, the minimum period of imprisonment is seven years. If the victim is under the age of fifteen, the minimum imprisonment is ten years.
Section 286 states that whoever is over the age of sixteen years of age, lives on, even some part of, the earnings of a prostitute shall be liable for imprisonment from seven to twenty years. The term “living on the earnings of a prostitute” is determined by whether the person is residing or associating with one or more prostitutes regularly, living or receiving money or other benefits procured by a prostitute, or engaging for the purpose of helping a prostitute in the quarrel with his or her customer. This section does not apply to any person who receives maintenance from a prostitute as a result of law or morality.
The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of 1996 defines prostitution as any act “in order to gratify the sexual desire of another person in a promiscuous manner in return for money or other benefit.” Any person who for the purpose of prostitution, solicits, induces, or introduces themselves in a public place shall be liable for a fine of up to one thousand baht. Any person who associates with another person in a prostitution establishment shall be liable for imprisonment for up to one month or a fine of up to one thousand baht.
Any person who advertises or solicits through documents or printed material for prostitution shall be liable for imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine of ten thousand to forty thousand baht. If someone gratifies their sexual desire with a person over the age of 15 but not over 18 years of age shall be liable for imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of twenty to sixty thousand baht. A person who is the owner, supervisor, or manager of a prostitution business is liable for imprisonment from a range of three to twenty years and a fine of eighty thousand to four hundred thousand baht.
Thailand’s reputation as a place of sexual deviancy does not reflect the true nature of its people or its laws. Those who enter Thailand to engage in deviant activities should understand that they are entering a grey area of Thai society. Those who choose to violate the laws of Thailand are opening themselves up for arrests, extortions, and criminal elements in society. Siam Legal’s criminal defense lawyers and attorneys has represented clients who have entered the red light districts and found themselves in prison charged with drug possession, assault, or a sex crime.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Mr. Robert R. Virasin is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science, Mr. Virasin completed his Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston and a Masters of Laws (Business) from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Mr. Virasin is a licensed attorney in the state of Texas with over 15 years of legal experience.