Sex Worker Autogestion

Mark Fenn looks at a Thai worker-owned cooperative brothel, in the Asia Sentinel:Thaibarstory3

When the words “bar” and “sex” are put together in Thailand, one doesn’t usually think about progressive labor relations or stuff like profit sharing. But in at least one small corner of the country’s huge sex industry, a few women are trying to get a better deal for themselves out of giving pleasure for money.

At the small Can Do bar in the northern city of Chiang Mai, sex workers are using their brains as well as their bodies in an experiment aimed at tackling exploitation. The bar is owned and managed by a collective of women from the Empower Foundation, a support group for sex workers known for its “sex positive” stance on prostitution.

The country’s first so called experitainment bar aims to provide working girls with a safe and fair working environment.

The bar, which complies fully with Thai labor laws, has just celebrated its first birthday and is proving successful on both “a political and an economic level,” said Liz Hilton, who works with Empower. The bar has won acceptance, Hilton says, for providing decent working conditions for the women who work there.