Jobless Thai sex workers protest in Bangkok against bar closures brought on by Covid-19 pandemic

Jobless Thai sex workers who have been out of work during the pandemic protested in Bangkok today against the country's sweeping closures of bars and other adult venues. Women and transgender strippers, escorts masseuses and bar workers gathered in front of Thailand's Government House to tie colourful panties on the matal gate and lay their high heels by the driveway to symbolise their jobs. The group led by Empower Foundation, a charity offering support to sex workers, converged on the Prime Minister's office to demand financial aid of up to 5,000 baht (112 GBP) per month from the government. The action comes a day after a nationwide ban on restaurants and bars was enforced on Monday (June 28) as daily infections reached 5,000 cases a day - dashing hopes that bars could soon re-open for tourists to return and fund the lucrative industry. LGBT activist Sirisak Chaited who joined the protest said: 'We’re Thai people and we generate income for the country. Please accept the reality that prostitution exists and it does have value and dignity just like other professions.' The protesters were able to hold a short program in front of the office building until they were interrupted by police who asked them to remove the bikini they hung on the gate, which they refused to do. The country’s most severe outbreak started in upmarket strip clubs in the Thong Lor district of the capital Bangkok in April and lead to sweeping restrictions on businesses with only shopping malls allowed to stay open. Restaurants briefly re-opened but were closed again this month. Thailand is best known for its round-the-clock sex industry with hundreds of thousands of women working in various bars, clubs, massage parlours and as 'freelance' escorts. However, it has been hit by the pandemic after ministers closed the country's borders in March last year. Thailand has now recorded 244,47 Covid-19 cases and 1,912 deaths as of June 27. Prostitution - despite being widespred - is currently punishable with up to two years imprisonment and a 40,000 baht (900 GBP) fine in the country.

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