Akha Chronicles
Book 1: Maesai
Chapter 22: Prostitution




Many Akha women ended up in prostitution in Thailand.  When one came to know what happened to their villages at the hands of army it was no wonder.  People have to eat.


Brothels and Prostitution


The women, the prostitutes and the view that we all have of them here is a story in itself.  Here prostitutes are like a social system.  The longer I think that there are girls that are prostitutes and ones which are not the longer I am mistaken.  Here, the realities of life are that a woman may be subjected to this, whether she likes it or not, by the realities of survival, no food, no money, siblings who are suffering, fines, imprisonment, extortion, being held hostage by police or immigration, so to take money for sex sooner or later, may in reality be a more polite reality in comparison to the other ways that sex is forced on them. There is something calculated, controlled about prostitution, that they can not control in all these other realities.  That is not to say that everyone does. They don’t. But I am talking about a the feeling of the place. It’s a lot more grey than people think. Everyone can find an excuse for it and most westerners try to always tag it on the men. Course they benefit from it most, they take more from that woman each time than one they pay for. It is fraud. For some women, they may see it that nothing pays as well, some women may choose it without much economic pressure, they want more consumables, this is how they pay for them.

Maesai has more brothels in it now than it used to have, many of them new and many built with money coming from all this trade in the rubies from Monshu.  There are more Akha girls in the brothels than there used to be.  In the past it tended to be a Thai Yai (Shan) specialty.  My Shan friend says that Shan families morn when they have a boy because boys can’t make the family rich, can’t build a new house.  So there is certainly a cultural thing there that has been established.  But it was never culturally acceptable for Akha girls to become prostitutes, as one can see from their religious ballads and such.  The term for prostitution is “to sell one’s butt”.  Not very concealing. 

A government has no requirement to make all of the destructive things available to people.  That is social restraint. That evil things are not encouraged.

I wonder about that in Thailand, how Buddhism doesn’t bother to condemn prostitution as a life style, when it certainly seems to go against the rules written within the religion.

A conspiracy of silence.

     There was this one Akha woman, I knew who she was, so I knew also her story before and her new story in time, what happened. For some reason she ended up in the clutches of this man in Maesai who sold women. He got a hold of her. The phone was busy, the four wheel drives were busy, the guys lined up to have sex with this woman, they came from far and wide, he had a “Got new woman in the house” hotline. The room was busy, all day and all night. She was big bait, she didn’t know what hit her, it was a train they pulled on her for probably six months at least. She never got out of bed. I found out about it. I told the man I would pay him to let her go. He gave a high price, but I said I would see how I could pay this, but don’t bust my gut, but then he wouldn’t even agree to that.  I was angry about this, he knew it, he knew I wanted that woman set free.  A lot of other people knew it too, other women he “owned”. They felt he was a bastard, that he drove too hard of a bargain, that the woman should be let go. They talked about it. I talked to them. They told me the inside story, about what was happening to that woman. Maybe a week after he did the situation like that, I came back. He was lying on a bench. He said he was sick. A couple days later he fell down dead in the shower. He died and rotted right there. That was HIS end game. He should have cut the deal. It would have been some small glimmer of redemption in his ugly picture, but he said no.


"Saving the Girls"

                Near the south end of town there is a man named SomPop who has set up a village for Akha kids, mostly girls. I question this practice from a purely philosophical point of view. The goal is to identify girls who are at high risk for being sold into prostitution and bringing them into a safe environment. On the other hand the Catholics are doing the same thing in Bon Tham and I really can’t see much difference than having a nunnery by conscription. By their own admission they say that they will not return to the village. In my mind this is wrong. The village must be preserved, and stregthened. There is all kinds of opportunities for empire builders with money and a mission to set up their own little conscription centers but in the long run the kids are still the loosers in big ways. But it still is not as good an accomplishment as it could be. Those running the operations should be less partisan to their own religious persuasion and put the Akha culture first.

     Sompop? What was he really up to. He became the darling of more than one stupid westerners, paraded around, but that wasn’t the talk in the town, that he was really moving the girls to Japan, that out the back door Akha girls went missing, and that he got money from two hands, from two different kinds of people. Even the US govt. bought his pathetic line. Sompop, he screwed a lot of people. They should tell their own stories.


Why Did They Become Hookers?

Money. They needed money.  They wanted some kind of life.  And the options for working were not good.

This place chewed people up.

There were plenty of bad jobs.

Very few good ones.

There were not enough skills being taught, and without people resources it was difficult to develop the informational infrastructure needed to help more.


01 Express

The train charged on through the night.

Girls getting on and off, phones ringing, orders being placed, mororbikes to be paid for.

Burn forty years in a couple.

Sometimes the train stopped at a marriage siding.

Sometimes it stopped at aids.

But whereever it stopped the faces became more clear, more ghost like.

All the soul pumped out.

And they all had attitudes to boot, learing faces, scorning laughter, jeering cackles, shiftless and lazy, used to getting it and taking it on their backs.

A small gold mine their only resource that didn’t require work.

Other woman trudged the streets, selling vegetables, but always with joy and a smile.

The Chinese woman from the Bead shop ran the place, her family. Some of the girls would be in the bead shop stringing beads with needle and thread for a few months, few days, a year and then went on to stringing something else.


The 25

25 noodle stand, nahm Djooh

twit twit

soup john and I always got at this little shit hole all night thai restaurant with filthy kitchen, bath and all.  Typical thai lack of perception about those things

The hookers came in after their last throw, or before their last throw. The bar girls, their boys, the bikes, the singers, the workers, they all showed up at the 25 sooner or later, and if you ate soup there late, you saw them too.


Other Houses In Town

There were other houses in town, mostly down in the Koh Sai district.  From dirt floors to towering concrete, so many girls turning their young flesh old in but months.  Old men and old women, running them like animals for rent, few of the customers wary of the door it was on grief.  These were the losses.

One place had Japanese Bonsai art in it, then the old woman on the corner, hailing, the row of Burmese houses on the turnabout, one or two to the left there, the old scar face cantina, and a few other drive in places to right side near the Baptist Church.

    They all fed on the flesh of young women, who came and worked and went and died. They got their gold chains all, not nearly as heavy as the sins that pulled their ghost ship below the waves.




Scar Face


Ancient Massage


The Alley Ancient Massage


Harry the teacher




The Maesai Prostitute Market

What amazes me is how the girls just throw themselves away some times. Some of them seem to have options. Some of them are real pretty. They could settle down for another life.

They got this regular feeding frenzy of guys taking turns in their pants, all in the huddle, trading the girl back and forth and her standing there knowing full well what is going on but she would rather be in the land of adventure, her own operator or something.  Buy this, buy that, be in demand, be the star of the disco, gold, clothes, buy it, wear it, throw it way, like all the cocks were doing.


The brothels, the differences, the dead tunas.

The girls.  What I noticed.  No one taught them good and right and nothing good or right would come of it. They walked off into the night. Maybe some got taught and didn’t listen, maybe some didn’t have choices. But is this the case, apart from being taken captive into a brothel, and these cases happen all the time, but apart from those cases, is it that these girls don’t have a choice? I think people jump a few times too often to the blanket assumption that they don’t. So what about that woman, poorer than all hell, who does work real hard on the street to feed her kids, or feed her mom? Why didn’t she become a hooker? She’s pretty enough.

As a business some were run well and some were not.

The little switch.


Attitude with some men, she was too slam bam........

How the men talked about the women, there was a history in that one all of its own.


The Fat Mamasahns


The massage girls

They weren’t really whores, they were more like bankers, looking at this land deal and that one and thinking which one they wanted to rest a few chips on.  New motorbikes but other than that they didn’t seem to go beyond gaudy clothes and high shoes that stuck out.  They never did get their colors right and sorry to those who thought double knitt orange checker was out.  They wore it all.


The broker comes to Pah Nmm Akha

I told her she needed to leave. She did.  Must have been the way I said it.

She came there to trick girls to go to Lampang. She wanted seven girls. She knew they didn’t have ID cards, she wanted them to cross the province line anyway, she knew it was illegal. She knew it made them without rights, without protection, at the mercy of her and who ever sent her, prisoners. I went to my truck and got a big machette. I told her if she was there in the morning that I was going to run her through with it, and take her up and bury her in the jungle.


Gold Chain Mamasan

And the dumpy girl who fed her kids, and other wages of sin


Taxi Driver from New York


The Pappasahn

The stoopy guy with the cloth hat



Golden Boy

The pappasahn guy with the gold, left over from old New York Taxi Deal


The Death of Scarface


The Chiangmai Girl

Her name was Ann.

She was from Chiangrai, good looking, when she came in I thought she was an Akha because her face was so open.  She made to each altar, ran a brush through her hair, looked at her face in a tiny mirror, then took her seat at the end of the bar next to a fellow from Germany or somewhere.  A Thai man sat with him and they all three talked for some time. The bar was not so much a bar as an open drinking shop next to the night market, tv, cable channels, mixed drinks, food, and all the other bars were open so you could watch several TV's at once, sitting on a comfortable bench, some music, and good air plus light.  I picked this one sat next to the dividing wall, watched two other tv's and like it that it was the quietest.

Some of the girls hooked, maybe all of them hooked, some did not, so they claimed.  The girls had grown older and uglier by the year, the places were many now, what had only been along Tapae Gate area, dark loud places.  Now there were all of these large airy open shops and they were rather pleasant for just sitting and talking, never very many customers, you could wander from one to the other.

I drank one beer, then went to coffee, the German left, and the young lady came and sat down across from me.  With big eyes and pleasant smile and she spoke like only Thai girls know how to do, in gentle broken english that was pleasant enough, better than my Thai.  Maybe in a moment though I would feel like the only part that was missing was a screen and this would be a confessional.  Her soft eyes, deep and holding, and I chatted with her about her life.  Like a spool, it slowly unraveled, spinning faster and faster.  She was from Chiangrai, she had been married, she thought he was a good guy but before the baby girl was born he started doing speed.  His parents had money so he didn't have to work, lots of time, but soon there was no food for her or baby.  Before this or after this, family friends had called from Switzerland, they had a job for her, she was in her teens, all she needed to do was sleep with a few men.  Yeah, she did that for three months and came back and built a house.  Cause the water leaked in through the roof in the old house.  It was all a matter of which way the water went. One way you could feel poor, the other way you could feel rich. Her  mom and dad farmed rice, but had no land and so had to rent land and then give fifteen percent to the owner.

She said she met some nice men. Sometimes they wouldn't sleep with her, only wanted to be friends and be kind to her.  She wondered about getting married again but thought if he would love her, her three year old daughter.  Sometimes she charged the men a thousand baht, they paid the bar three hundred baht first to take her out, sometimes she charged them three thousand.  This was a three thousand baht night but I wasn't going to be a customer.  You make me want to cry she said.  First I wanted to do boom boom with you when I sat down but you said nice things to me so I want to be your friend.  Give me your email.  I got lots of friends.  No, not so many of them care about me.  I got western friends and Thai friends.  The Thai boys all like to do speed. Its one hundred twenty baht here in Chiangmai for one pill, but sometimes eighty baht.  After a customer makes love to me, I want to kick him, she lifted her leg up and kicked it out to the side of the table, a blue high topped clogg on her foot.  I make about twenty to thirty thousand baht a month, but I got lots of problems.  I have AIDS.  I don't know if I have it, I had a blood test three months ago, but I say that.  I'm scared I'll get aids, my folks are too.  I make all the guys wear condoms.  I feel like you know, like I could be, should be in heaven, but instead I'm down in that other place, what do foreigners call that, hell, yeah that's right, hell.  Maybe she felt her customers were taking more than they paid for?  I don't do all that well, I have to pay for a motorbike, a room, food, clothes, stuff for my face to make it look good, stuff for my hair, but I don't have a phone, then I give some money to my folks. You can only wear some clothes for a couple of days, wash them or not, still they are not good after that, pants shirts and all. They don’t look new after that.  But there isn't much left over. My room is fifteen hundred baht, really poor, it was, a decent place in Chiangmai was three thousand a month.

She came and sat beside me. A man came, two, into the bar and sat down.  What do you feel like when men come in the bar that you made love to before and you see them and you are sitting with someone else, I asked her?

You know, this is an old story I said.  You are a pleasant person, easy to talk to.  Yeah, she said, I say what I think, no right side left side like the wind or snake, turn and turn again, no I don't like that. I gotta leave here and go see someone at two thirty am.  They need a ride.

Yeah, this is an old story. What kind of ride will you give them. The one where you kick them when you are done? When they are done? You won't be young forever, you should quit and go back to Chiangrai if you are unhappy don't you think?  You know, that is what makes this story so old, only you can make you quit, but only you makes you keep working at this, no one makes you come here.  Yeah, but I like to help my parents.  Do you have a brother, I asked, a sister? No sister, just a younger brother.  And would he go out and work to help mom and dad? What's he do? Yeah, I figured, stays home and drinks beer but you like to do this.

So why should you worry, where will they be when you have AIDS and what will come of your daughter, is it good enough that she will stay with your folks while you lie dead, gone up in smoke and ash?

Only you can take your hand out of the moneky jar and no one is going to help you.

You wanna beer?              

Yeah, I'll have one too.

How come you drink coffee and then beer?

Oh, I like had one beer, then the night is young, and so I had a coffee so I don't get to dumb and sleepy, then I have another beer and I don't mind.

A kid walked up to me and shoved flowers in my face.  No, I don't wanna buy any for ten baht or no baht I told her in Akha.  She called her friend, this guy speaks Akha. He's cheap.  The other night her friend had come, a friend from Burma, the one with the little sister who has the crippled leg.  Yeah, what kind of deadbeat is your mother?  She won't let folks fix your sisters leg.  Yeah, I know.  That's being a jerk.  Well, my dad, he wants the money from her begging, but he's dead now, so just me and mom and her.  Yeah, but you down here pimpin? How old are you? Eleven. You didn't learn english for free, what you pimpin western guys? That's stupid.  Take me back up to maesai will you? No, you gotta get that woman to do it, she brought you down, I got nothin to do with it, you aren't riding with me and the cops will pull you off the bus.  If you wanna go up there I'll give you the money for the bus, but you gotta get on that bus and not just eat the money like you all do.

She wandered off down the walk with the woman with her bag of clothes.

The Thai woman was surprised I bought her a beer, I was glad she didn't need to ask first.  I asked her what she wanted to do, what her hopes were? You know that is your job, you gotta hope, no one can do that for you and when the gamin is done, the money's soon gone and you know that, look at these hacks.

She went over to the sidewalk on the other side and talked to a Thai guy, then came back for a short moment and then got up again and hugging her jacket to her, a black one with red lining, fighting off the unusually early cold and wind of November, she excused herself to the bathroom.

A Katoy came in, fat boots, vinyl pants, short chopped hair that he kept going at with his hands full stop.  There was a small space where his lips didn't quite reach his ears.  Blathering away and then out of the bar.  A horrible death face of a man who wasn't Thai and wasn't Indian came in with an older western man, like his lover, and sat down.  It looked like he had the hep too. 

The Thai girl came back and sat down again, talking about the last details of her confession.  She had herself caught between the money, the power, and back home where she had none of that, yes, you are addicted to that I told her and that is probably worse than speed, make the best you can of it, but in the long run it will be you that steps in or out.

I picked up my change and walked off into the darkness.


Prostitution 1-4

Prostitution #1 Date:



I will be sending you a longer reply but just wanted to comment:

I don’t think we can only fault the woman for going into prostitution, that is a choice she makes in the here and now, and that is her choice, but that does not mean that it is good or that she she did or did not have other choices.  In some cases she did but in many she did not.  But what we must also look at it is that many times there are women in the same life situations who don’t go and some who do.  There are distinguishing factors that cause one to go over others, but over all the Akha have so few rights, that they aren’t all in prostitution is what amazes me.

However we now have a very dangerous trend where the churches are taking girls from villages to save them, but they don’t and can not help the whole village, and taking the girls, stresses the village, making it collapse further and they have no way to save the whole thing once that happens, so they should not take them but strengthen the village instead.

More later,

I now live in the village, and believe me I can see why a girl would be a prostitute with all the asaults on the sanctity of the village.  These are good people in an incredible predator environment and these house operators should be shut down.


Prostitution #2 Date:

Tue, 08 Jun 1999



I am up here in the mountain and get a little more time to fully go over this.

I should first say that the situation of prostitution is very complex.

There are some thoughts on the missions that I will try to cover also, and now, alas, they are related issues.

My feeling is that prostitution, as an objective issue, is not good for the human body or spirit.  I have witnessed here over the years, as I have seen girls go into this trade their decline, often quite rapid, in both regards.  In otherwords they physically show signs of ill health and related sadness if you will.

But along the way, decisions the woman make do play into this.  I am not saying that they ever had that much of a good hand. Obviously had the choice been an express train to Harvard with the nurturing needed, they would have taken it.

I do not try to asses blame in this by the way, I don’t blame the women, whatever their choice, none of it here seems to be that clear.

But I have seen women, girls I guess one would say, based on age, but mentally much women, who under the same conditions don’t go into prostitution, while friends in the same situation did.

So there are many reasons for entering the trade.

Some girls go into it because it is a fast money ride, and if they are savvy, one that they can control.  Many go into it for drudge work that is secure and pays, even though they don’t like it.  Others it would appear, don’t mind it, sort of an annoyance at best if even that. And many got shoved, tricked or pushed into it in one way or another, quite complex details that holds them there even now.

The ones with savvy that go into it, appear to go into the side of the business that allows them the most control.  This is usually “massage”.  Here they sort their customers, and when they find likely prospects, they sign that man up as a husband if you will, and having signed up several, manage them time wise for the proper return.

This brings us to the issue, that though many don’t do well financially in this business, they hold out for the hopes they will because of many of the ones as I have described above, they make very good money at it.  There are sure plenty enough who hit the jackpot, maybe several times.

In the end these people make far more money than anyone close to their age with any level of education in the same region.  This then raises the issue of collusion, which clouds the issue.  In the west we like to classify prostitution as a “victim” event.  There are also several good books on the social management of the female anatomy as something that belongs to the state or the church, for better or worse.

From this position many of the misconceptions are born.

But the fact remains, that many girls, entering the trade at say 15, if they are pretty, or clever, or both, can manage several husbands and by this means gain a level of wealth unimaginable for their families, land, a big concrete house, motorcycle, car, etc.  These items take twenty and thirty years for the other families to get.

Who can blame the girl, if she marries a poor man, or if she marries several rich men whom she manages for the greatest financial return.  But can we always say that she is the victim in this, I don’t think so.  Some are doing it for great profit and in that regard are basically a business person.

Now the problem occurs when we look at the over all numbers.

The number of women who hope for this good work environment is far greater than the number who actually make it.

The picture that the most fortunate women paint from truth and also to save face, causes many to think it is easy or that they will be so lucky, so many go into the trade.

But overall I would say that in so many percent of these cases only the “house” wins.  Far more girls fall on hard times before they become women.

So there are levels of fortune in the trade.  Those at the top can least be considered victims, because if they had all the opportunities that we could provide, they would still be making less money than what they make at what they do.  They know this, they know the risks, education about the risks seems to be highest among those making the most money, so they are better off in this regard also.

It can easily be rationalized.

Intellectually we may oppose it.

How can we measure their “spiritual” loss?

I am not sure. I think they have to measure that.

Other girls know the money that is involved, are pretty, yet turn it down.

Who can say when the lines get crossed?

I don’t know, that is why I don’t attribute blame, because there are so many factors.

However, on the lower end of the pay scale it is more obvious why the hand has been forced.  In many of these cases the girl’s father has died.  She is the oldest, there is no money, she goes into the business as one of the only available courses to bring in big enough money to feed her mother and brothers and sisters, and maybe get them to school. Maybe she can hold out the slim hope that she will hit on a rich man who cares for her, but this would not cheer one much under the conditions of duress that generally dominate the situation.

Economic duress.

She works hard, she doesn’t buy into the flash, she just sits there every night and gets her customers and goes to the room or their hotel, and doesn’t dream that there will be some princess one year, she just does her “job” year after year, pays the house, sends money home, she doesn’t star in a flick about prostitution, and then she goes home if she is lucky and not dead and she doesn’t talk about how her ass was this and that of a victim and how she will never get over it, all the trauma like her sniveling sisters in the west, and she goes on with her life and she wonders is some westerner with a bleating mouth going to fix her reality while gobbling up all the consumer goods they can and coming to her village with a Nikon and talking about morality and all that is politically correct like they really give a shit if she has the same rights and choices of a white bitch in New York?

Then there are those who get “pushed” into it by friends, family.  For instance the older sister is greedy, so she sells little sister. Hey, Igot a job for you. And I’m not talking Akha or anyone else, I am talking any sister. Malevolent.  I have personally seen this, and the odd thing is that very seldom does the little sister resent it, she has a dark side about it, but generally gets with the program and goes as far as she can with it, still part of the overall family economic and social unit, even after she gets out of the business. And she is still friends with her older sister, it’s a deed that was bad, it got done, it is done. 

But does the western world of rapo capitalism give a shit about these girls? Give me a break.

I think that there are two dangers in this whole issue.

The first is automatically making them all victims.  This does not reflect the many personal decisions that many of the girls make.

The second is ignoring the situation, the greater external situations outside the villages and towns and family that cause many of the problems that birth all of this.

Overall, the reality is that as a group, the poor, no matter where you go, do not have the social or economic rights that would allow them to fairly compete in the system and this creates a lot of prostitution.  It appears that prostitution would be high in any group that was suppressed and had to find “alternative” means of income.  This in cases where we see so much prostitution throughout a group or groups.

The greatest mistake is the errors we can make in guessing the causes of

all of this.

That is not to say that some are not obvious.

So tell me, are all the rich college bitches selling their asses as escort services at a couple hundred bucks an hour in the US, are they oppressed?

I have seen many groups come in here who know that “prostitution of girls” is a hot issue for getting money from western people, like I mentioned, it would appear that there is a victim mentality that contributes to this, but this produces another event which people here refer to as “Super Pimping”.  This is where the NGO’s and missions are making far more money off “saving the girls” from prostitution, than the pimps would be making off selling them for sex.  A whole lot of money can be gotten for “Saving” the girls.

This may make some people some real nice “feel good” jobs, but it does not solve the problem overall and probably makes it worse.  For one thing, it doesn’t address the problem at its origin, and secondly it gives the impression that the girl suddenly has a bargaining chip, that she can sell herself more than one time, that responsibility is still not an issue. 

What would we tell the many poor girls that chose NOT to go into this trade?


they are just stupid? So who draws the line. Who was forced, who went willingly, who was stupid, who was not.

      There are a lot of easier questions to ask, and there are many places to help while not knowing all the answers to this one.

      Course, you don’t see all the western blokes in Chiangmai complaining about expoited chicks while the US govt. is rating Thailand for trafficking of women and children, that is sort of messed up. The western guys, they say they are along on the ride for free, that the Thais would be doing it anyway, that it isn’t their problem that the girl got forced off the land and so is selling her self so that she can be their three day wife, cause they would get married, but the guy wouldn’t bother to do that would he, its entitlement after all, a three day screw and then he gets a new one.

What if God stopped the clock, and at midnight, who ever you are with, that’s your wife for life. God, there’d be a bunch of surprised dudes in the morning.

If we make a program for correcting what is broken, but don’t take


of what is causing the brokeness, how will we ever catch up, waiting for

it all

to be broken, and then trying to artificiall repair what is done correctly

by the

Natural if we don’t screw it up.            

In Thai society there is very much a caste system of the very rich few and the very poor.  This also produces a lot of prostitution along with other factors.

But one can not attempt to address the problem of prostitution in Thai society without addressing the fact that basically the society is not under the rule of law, that the rich take what they want, that the poor are without a song.

However the problem is extreme when you take a group like the Akha in the economic position of duress that they are in, and coming from a vastly different societal make up and are forced to deal and cope with all the pressures of encroachment that have been pressing in on them. They don’t even have the ID cards that the girls from Isan have.

We had some discussion of this on eco polotics list, that people can live in as much comfort as they like as long as they don’t take what belongs to others, or take away the very basics from others.  The west as a group however, is unable to stick to this when you look at the extension of the consumption system and how far it goes out, including nation state societies such as Thailand and finally ending up at the Akha.

For instance, if a Thai has bought into the extension of the western dream and needs all the trappings of the west, like a nice mercedes and so forth, what may he have to do to get it?  Own a lot.  And owning a  brothel in Maesai may be part of owning a lot.  Greed. No new game, but the western model of flash and spend, buy and own, makes this problem worse.

And this pressure goes out to the Thais who are now gobbling up every last shred of land that the Akha have, as fast as they can, and when the Akha don’t have land, they don’t have food and their daughters go into prostitution increasingly so.  The rich come, steal the land, then the poverty that causes, increases to them the availability of cheap girls from the very same families they stole from, for their entertainment.  So it is a model of plunder and rape of the inhabitants of a region.  There is no feeling to it, it is done with intent and ill will.

I know of scores of situations where this occurred and there is no recourse. No rule of law.

The UN would have that people have a right to some land, even if they are a stateless people, but this law is violated all over Thailand and other places.

Everyone is being forced to be a serf for the rich.

Now we run into the problem that many NGO’s in an attempt to “help” if this is their real attempt, which I doubt, as compared to being in a “popular” cause, start pulling girls out of villages.  It is sort of mind boggling that anyone would come up with this solution.  It is so western, and Akha villages and culture is anything but western.  Further more one would ask what gives them the right, it seems rather arrogant to interfere in such a way, especially when the result is ineffective and there are better courses of action, no doubt less showboat and less popular.

In addition it contributes to the marginalization of the village, just accelerating the decline that much faster, and there is no way that this method can keep up with the speed of deterioration that it is busy contributing too.

It ends up being a form of “highgrading” of the village girls in the end.  The less fortunate get nothing.  In addition it splits the genders, removes available girls from being married, makes them a part of another group and fully qualifies as genocide under the articles of the 1948 accord on Genocide.

Removing individuals from one group and making them part of another.

It should be noted, that with few exceptions, (I can think of only one) this is all being done by Thais, which don’t much like the Akha anyway, and western missionaries, white with an evangelical agenda, which doesn’t give much concern for the Akha either. No more than they do for black people in the US.

In my opinion the solution would be to start with first respecting who the Akha are and doing away with the western race based prejudices against them.  Then one might start working in a way to help them defend themselves as a group.

This includes land rights, ID card rights, rights to their own form of non Thai based education, protection from unlawful search and seizure, the legalization of smoking opium for personal use. A forum for voicing grievances with either the Thai, or Burmese government.

But who is going to give them these?

Yet if we don’t then we are basically saying that we can more easily fix what we can not keep from being broken.  That is an odd form of logic.  That by forcing a girl into prostitution, we can somehow swoop down at the last minute and save her from it.

Yet the considerable weight and wealth of the missions, who like to showboat “saving girls” has not been brought to bear where it needs to be, to address the core issues that are causing this problem.  And certainly with the money to build big hospitals and host a horde of programs and people, all living very well, they could address these issues with the governments.  Course it isn’t popular, it takes moral courage and that is why it doesn’t get done. And fixing the problem won’t make them any money, so you can guess who they are really in this for, sides keeping their own souls out of hell.

The last is a quick fix, and it won’t last nor meet the need.

But at least they should be honest about what is bringing this tragedy about rather than wring their hands.

Villages can be helped with these core issues in other ways also.  Lets say for argument that it is impossible to work for these basic rights (which I don’t at all agree with) then lets look at what we CAN do.  We can work to help the village to defend itself, its land, its culture, its heritage and increase its options, not along western lines, but along Akha lines.  This would come with safe water, increasing nutrition via agriculture by providing seeds, saplings, expertise.  The Akha did fine while left to them selves.  They are not left to themselves now, are being increasingly pressed, and so it is going to take working through the villages more intensely in order to assist them.  For instance some villages can start planting tea and coffee, more vegetables and fruit.  But there is not money for the plant stock.  The end idea is that is the village has sufficient nutrition, if they are also defending the land by increasingly managing it, it will be more difficult to displace the villages.

There is a problem here, because the Thai policy would appear to be to get rid of the villages all together.  So in some areas big roads are being put in, no regard to the environment, and urban sprawl being created right up into the jungle, taking precious tracts of mountain land with a few Akha villages and in a few years wiping the environment out completely.

The solutions are not mysterious.  Just makes me wonder why so many people only want to solve the problem at the last minute? Or keep saying that they are still looking for the solution, for development, for sustainable practices, what kind of bullshit is this?

Maybe it is because addressing the problem early on would bring up too many uncomfortable issues, like western economic policy, the habit of turning and looking the other way, as long as they get what they want, which doesn’t happen to be justice for the Akha.

We see a huge mission presence in Northern Thailand, they live well, they live fat, but when you bring up helping the village, over helping the girls, thus eliminating the problem at its core, they get very hostile.  For one thing they can’t do anything without it being attached to their colonization policy.  So they help villages only if they become “Christian” as in white Christian.  You can’t help people by having a personal agenda. It doesn’t work that way, so the missions go for village conversion and don’t care much at all about village rights, because they themselves are busy violating these.

Overall, the issues are both complex and simple at the same time.

I would say that the Thai and Burmese governments are to blame and that the missions are deep into human rights violations.  But there is no organization that is so completely fanatic and relentless in their human rights violations than the mission establishment, and they are able to do this solely BECAUSE the Akha are denied their basic rights.  So how does one figure?

Missions must have abused impoverished people under duress and oppression in order to build their power grid with all its built in control over people.

That is why villages don’t have clean water but have multi thousand dollar churches, in some cases very large and very expensive.

And then when you look at what they take away from the people and what they foist on them, it is nothing less than criminal and I don’t expect to see the degrading of the villages and the level of prostitution let up any at all.

I might add that in Akha culture selling yourself is considered very taboo, yet this occurs heavily among the “christianAkha who have been denied their traditional culture.  To me it is obvious that this would be the result, but the missions can’t see it at all, because they are right, and commissioned from God.

Anyway, that is my two bits worth.

I don’t blame the girls who enter prostitution, I think it would be better if they wouldn’t and I know of many causes, but I don’t blame them. Matter of fact what amazes me is that more don’t do so.


8 June 99, Prostitution

Prostitution #3 Date:

Tue, 08 Jun 1999:


I ended up answering this in two emails, no problem.

Glad you have some questions.

The problems here with the missions are severe at best.  The Akha are mostly without defense against their efforts and are being colonized by them at the expense of their culture and overall long term survival.

It is so odd that the question that the Churches can’t answer is if there would be any Akha culture left at all if they had their way?

I mean, lets play this game out in a “war room” if you will.  What will we have left? The answer is obvious, that in the end, if they had the ability to work every village as they would in their campaign, there would not be one shred of Akha culture left.  We know this because where they have been successful there is no culture left.

And what then is lost?

Well, first off there is the huge violation of human rights that is going on here.

Secondly, they are silencing an entire culture, an entire way of life, an entire collection of massive size of traditional knowledge about the earth and what lives in it, how it is made up, how to stay alive as a genetic code for a very long time, generation after generation.  The church immediately attacks this and it is in the end lost.  This is nothing but criminal.

The culture is lost, the people are made into idiots for the glory of the church and the language is either lost or reduced to prescribed content only.

But if you ask these people they can not answer.  They should be in the dock. The Akha are not poor, just much stolen from, faster than they can regenerate themselves, that is why we have laws, why are not the missions required to live under the rule of law?

There is not much written on the Akha.

Why is this?  I have documented proof that the m issions knew very early what the Akha were about and what their culture was about, but it was kept hidden, because they needed disinformation to protect their agenda, had people know the fantastic intricacies of these people they would have sprung to their defense much earlier.

A New Testament was produced, a few books, but the missionary who produced all of that, knew far more than that.

It was also odd that on one hand Paul Lewis for example established Baptist churches that wiped out all of the culture in those villages, and on the other hand he carefully passed himself off in anthropological circles as an expert on that very culture.  He obviously saw no contradiction in this.  A few others do.  At the same time the Akha women were discouraged from wearing their traditional clothes and head dresses he was busy making a business of buying head dresses and selling them in the US.

If you get a copy of the missionary Paul Lewis’s ethnographic notes on the Akhas of Burma in four volumes from Cornell Library, you will quickly smell a rat.  He wrote a huge amount of information down, in one of the most isolated times of the Akha, yet somehow it is not widely accessible and the Akha surely didn’t get a copy of what he wrote about them at expense of their effort and time to teach him.  He really plays the slippery fish on this one.

On the Convention for Children, I would first look at the impact that the church is having specifically on targeting children, turning them against parents and culture. They claim they are about Jesus, they are not, in fact they are about imposing their culture in place of the one the Akha children have.

Well, the event with the Denmark Teacher and the Chinese Baptist seminary was a turning point, someone besides myself, saw first hand what the problem was, had their own project of building a school room stopped by the students from the mission, documented it, and confronted the mission themselves with it.  They only laughed at her and treated her very badly, denying everything till the police came and though not much came of that at first, the shot was heard around the world so to speak and for once there was a focused case that people could begin responding to.

This was an enormous help because on top of everything else the mission was suddenly aware of how seriously we were treating this and that we would stay on it, and the missions have no favored status in Thailand overall, since the Buddhists are increasingly feeling threatened.

At the same time we had a confrontation with Campus Crusade and the Jesus Film Project because they used slanted information in their translation of the Jesus film into Akha, after we specifically asked them not to.

It was a simple change they could have made, and it would have been more accurate, but instead they used the word “Peeh Mah” for the high priests that crucified Jesus.  Peeh Mah is the word for the village poet and historian.  This is a specific attempt to discredit the culture, the same as they translated it for the new testament.  But the church never made any secret of caring nothing for indigenous people’s cultures.

Yes, still struggling.

Way too much to do, way too much concern, and no money to print books.

On the good side after the one conflict with the Chinese baptists in Maesai, then word finally got to another chinese mission that they were listed on the internet for doing speaker broadcasts of their denomination to both baptist and catholic villageres and Akha religion villagers against their wishes.  They finally stopped.  Course I sort of implied to them that if they didn’t get the point to stop making the day and night broadcasts starting at 5 am and lasting till 11 pm off and on I would be more than glad to rip their speaker system down.  I have a house in the Akha traditional village and they had wired a megaphone on a tall bamboo pole half a kilometer away and were broadcasting to us without our approval.  It finally stopped, I think they know there is something in the woods.

By the way, that village that the mission is built in just had its third suicide within a year, all within 50 meters of the very wealthy Taiwanese Baptist mission.  this time it was a 14 year old girl that hung herself.  Maybe it is a “gospel of alienation”?  I tend to think so.

Waiting to hear from you.


Prostitution #4

This is the sad reality.

On one hand we have in the west increasing alienation between the sexes, which in my mind increases the demand for no questions asked body contact, if you want to call it that, I think, with no ill intended, that increasingly in the west, men and maybe women, are just becoming ill from not enough of this natural contact with all the alienation.  I see it here, people who have very kind relationships with prostitutes, just want to be with a human being, and a score of western men marry them and treat them as anyone else would a wife.

But what gets me is the first link in the chain. Because most girls won’t get the dream of a man marrying them.  They will not come out alive one way or the other. And it is the first link, the person that takes them down off the mountain, the first deception. 

Then the Thai acceptance of the Karaoke which could not survive without these rental girls.

I have seen village girls end up as trash, both physically and emotionally within six months.

First, let me say I just spent the last 15 days, at the age of 41, working on incredibly steep mountainsides, eating damn near nothing, drinking unclean water and chopping vegetation, smoothing the soil and planting rice in weather from extremely hot and dry to solid rain and mud.  The hillside is so steep you can not stand up on it.

And they go home at 6pm walking an hour back to the village off the mountain (used to be up, but they got forcibly moved) and then get some rest and do it all over again starting at 4 am.  These people are tough, they have just about zero nutrition, and they have a million predators including the blasted missionaries in the fancy trucks, out buying off the headmen in exchange for abandoning the culture.

So if the daughter ends up a prostitute, but they eat, you can see the incredible yet tragic relief it is. Just isn’t talked about and that is it.

To some degree, can’t afford much and don’t appear to think that they ever will get much anyway, save for a better house, buy land, etc.

The churches take the girls, own them.

The men,

Simple, no wives to marry. No kids, no genetics.

We have a really good video out now, The Akha Way.  This is a start, I did the video, they put it together, just needs to have more done as a sequel.

I think that if you came here what you saw going on would break you heart and then how the NGO’s, super pimps we call them, make a big business out of it, and are pulling girls out of the villages making it harder even yet on the natural survival of the villages. The missions are real bad about this. 



The Girl Must Go to Japan

A family friend of steve, she has been a prostitute for a couple years already, but her father, in his fourties, a selfish lazy man wants her to go to Japan so there can be money without work for him.

She doesn't want to go but he insists that she do.

She will have to pay more than a million baht back, and sleep with many men for a number of years before she can come back and she may get aids.

But she will get no peace and has no where to go, and maybe there is no emotional escape from such men, even if running away.

But then days later I heard that she got a reprieve.  Don't know how long it lasted, but her friend called a police woman she knew and he handcuffed her to her chair so she missed her bus to Bangkok.


The Sailom Joi Go Go bar with the pudgy old Chinese woman

The girl with the scar near her mouth, "Lik Serv" and the fag that served beer.

All the well worn girls from China, some Akha. The cops, firing their guns, being stupid.


Typical akha girl goes down the hill

story of transition  


Buy out ch mai girl

No victim, a gambler who wanted to be bought out by a japanese with lots of money, it is the money parade until you land a big one and the mamasahn is the broker


Death of the Huai Krai Akha Woman



Two Belgians were busy entertaining an 11 year old and a 14 year old here at the guest house.  Here you got to see it all. I asked them about it, they said it was “none of my fucking business.”

Another time later I saw them with a girl from Bangkok who had gotten up to maesai and lost her wallet in Burma. She came down to my table near the railing and I noticed long burn marks on her arm and hand like someone had repeatedly taken a soldering iron to her.  The back of her hand was covered with cigarette type burns.  The underside of her arm was covered with methodic cuts from a knife.  All long healed, she declined to talk about it and said she didn’t like to think of it.



The scarfaced man could get anything.  He cruised town, walked into this brothel and that one, looking at what hung on the hook, looking for this young thing or that, or was it just his night off, his baseball hat raked back he chugged an M loi hah sip drink and walked out in his baggy white pants and got on his red motorbike which made a distinctive putt putt putt as it burped its way down the street, taking him to another look in another pink room full of resting bums beneath busy beds upstairs.


3 years bangkok girl

Charlie’s wife,


Gist of the job opportunity



first guys


Girls keep her going

small talk of the job, I don’t know really, it seems all very depressing


Meets boyfriend

in the brothel


Friends die of aids

this they don’t talk about much


Puking cutomers

customers aren’t mean but sometimes sick



run the place, good and bad ones, the good ones do a better business than the slouches


African man builds a house for whore, motorcycle story


No feeling below waist

That is the impression that one got, watching the hookers walk the street.  I don't know if there is a harder place than maesai for that.


Bullet holes in brothel steel door

In pump at esso at Ban Pasang


Akha Woman

Then there is the one woman married to the American, from Chiang Khong.  Insists she is not Akha.

Dresses Horribly. She is friendly, yet loud and often rude to him in public, making sure to make a scene.  I think that for some of these people there is ongoing pain, anger, that they try and take out on the world around them, ongoing lack of resolution.


The turn around

Right there where the dog was was the turn around.  Ellen Bruno said that there was a phallus in the little shrine.  Looked like one.  I had no idea what it meant.  But surrounding the turnaround were all the brothels, and one clinic.  The one road led to the left and to the river and a makeshift crossing so there were always cops there checking the comings and goings as well as lots of motorcycle taxis.


The playing jacks hooker



Plenty of girls think they are on the top of the world as they gather gold and prositute themselves.  They are going through a gate which they can never come back in.



A prostitution alternative will not work in this town without including somehow that it is wrong.

 Sure it has its uses and reasons but these are all parts of a crippled picture, not as it should b e. 

Prostitution is not sustainable, healthful and it is quite cynical.

As compared with what is right.

Not everything can be relative.

Every municipality makes a decision about prostitution, what they will allow and what they will not.





Have a comment or question? Like to know more? Send me an email at akha@akha.org
Copyright 2004, by Matthew McDaniel