Underage Thai girls are a serious danger to any tourist who thinks that a girl working in a bar must be above the legal age of consent for sex.
You’d be wrong to think that; the police have done a good job of reducing the number of underage girls working in the bars, but there are still some that flagrantly disregard the law and it’s something that you need to be very careful of.
It can sometimes be very difficult to guess the age of Thai ladies; I know a 30 year old Thai girl that looks like a teenager, and I know a 16 year old that looks to be in her early 20’s, and at the time of writing both are currently working as bar-girls.
The 16 year old girl has tattoos, piercings and a full figure... there’s no way that you would imagine her to be as young as she is and I’ve seen her in the company of more than a few customers who probably don’t realise the danger that such relationships carry. I’m not talking about out and out paedophiles; I’m talking about men that are probably making genuine mistakes when they get involved with underage Thai girls.
For example, if an 18 year old Englishman where to have a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl, he might think that this is perfectly okay since the legal age of consent in England is 16. What he might not realise is that the age of consent in Thailand is not 16, it is 18. If he gets charged by the police for his offense he’s not going to get the soft treatment that you get in the West; he’s looking at a hefty fine and 2 to 4 years in prison.
Technically, a charge could be brought even if the age separating them is minuscule (him just over 18 and her just under). I’ve even read recently about one young man aged 16 who had sex with a Thai girl one year older than himself and got threatened by her Thai parents that, if money wasn’t produced, they would go to the police! I’m not sure how that one would play out in reality, after all, the 16 year old lad could claim that he was the younger party and that he was the one being taken advantage of!
Whatever the particular circumstances are, it always pays to make sure that you are on the right side of the law in Thailand. All girls of legal age will carry an ID card stating their age and you should make sure that your girl has one if you think that there is even the slightest chance that she might be underage, and don’t forget that underage Thai girls sometimes look a lot older…
Your hotel receptionist will usually ask any lady accompanying you to
produce her ID card before she will be allowed to go with you to your
room. However, this is not a good enough safeguard. Some girls can talk
their way around such problems and end up being allowed in by the
receptionist, and some girls carry fake ID cards.
It makes sense to get to know your receptionist and get on their good side. They can be a useful shield against any mistakes when you’ve had a few too many drinks and you aren’t using your best judgement. If they are on friendly terms with you, they’ll happily advise you about any potentially underage Thai girls you wander in with... as well as ladyboys! If you’re not good at spotting ladyboys, and you don’t want to end up in a compromising situation, then make sure that you get the all-clear from another Thai person, Thais can spot them easily with a single glance.
On the issue of underage Thai girls, there are occasional traps set by the police to catch offenders out. These tend to focus on the deliberate paedophiles rather than unsuspecting tourists, so they normally focus on men accompanying much younger girls. There has been a news story recently about a Westerner caught with a 13 year old Thai girl in his room. It was a set up and the scene was interrupted before things went too far (the man was undressing at the time the police barged in).
Anyone getting involved with a girl this young is obviously aware that she is not of legal age, and the penalty for doing so is greater, up to 20 years in prison for a sexual act with a girl under 15. I’d imagine that the Westerner in question will not be charged with having sex with an underage girl as he was stopped before things went that far, but I wouldn’t count on it. Full intercourse is not necessary for a charge to be brought; I’m told that almost any sexual act counts as sex, so beware of this if you’re thinking a Bill Clinton style defence will help you out!
Why tell you about this story.... because there’s no reason why the police can’t go after those Westerners who mistakenly get involved with a girl that they believe to be older; they could easily follow a 17 year old girl that looks older and charge anyone that goes off with her.
My advice for avoiding underage Thai girls is to stick to girls that look to be at least in the 20s, and learn how to read an ID card – they have a birthdate according to the Buddhist calendar, which means that you need to deduct 543 years from the stated year to convert it to the Gregorian calendar that we use in the west.
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