As the Bar Lights Go Out

June 20, 2021

“SWING takes care of its members as if they are family. The organization has supported us from the first to the third wave of the COVID 19 pandemic. This support has also been extended to our families.”

Prisana (her pseudonym), a 51-year-old sex worker, is originally from Sisaket Province. Her family earned a living from a paddy farm, while she worked at a department store in Bangkok. She divorced her husband soon after giving birth to her daughter and became a single mother, with the added responsibility of four other family members. She left her job at the department store and started working in a bar in 1999.

Earning 40,000–50,000 baht a month, she was able to take care of her family and supported her daughter’s university education. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, she now only earns 10,000 baht a month, although she has tried to supplement her income by selling chili paste in addition to working in the bar, but it is insufficient to cover her monthly expenditure of about 20,000 baht.

Prisana participates in the SWING Food Bank Project activities, sharing dried food every Thursday and distributing relief items to members’ families. This has allowed her to save up to 2,000 baht a month on her family’s food expenses. Moreover, she receives help with legal and health services since her occupation is not legally recognized by the social security fund.

This project is one of twenty four short-term projects selected under the “Strengthening socio-economic recovery, human security and resilience in Thailand in context of the COVID-19 outbreak ensuring to Leave No One Behind and safeguard progress made towards the SDGs” project under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Thailand funded by the Japanese Government.

As a volunteer helping the community of sex workers, Prisana is hopeful that someday her occupation will receive legal protection. She is ready to do her part in helping the community, and work with her colleagues to drive policy change with a common goal.

Story in Thai version read here


Written and edited by Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING Foundation)