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Бар «Кен До»: Новое начало

Bernama,

Малайзия:

ЧИАНГ МАЙ, 27 ноября 2006 – Работницы индустрии развлечений основали Бар «Кен До» - единственный, по их словам, в своем роде в стране. Его владельцы – 10 секс работников, которые потратили один миллион бахт на дизайн и открытие бара в рамках пилотного проекта Фонда Эмпауер, неправительственной организации, помогающей секс работникам в Таиланде. Далее

"We pool our resources and experiences to create this bar. It's open to all sex workers in the city, and those who contributed became our shareholders," said Pornpit Pakmai, a shareholder and coordinator of Empower, here.

In a city known for its karaoke, bar and other entertainment outlets that employ more than 20,000 workers, Pornpit said the two-month-old bar wanted to promote itself as a role model where workers were treated fairly under good working conditions.

During a visit to the bar by a group of Asian journalists visiting HIV/Aids prevention programmes here under the auspicious of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pornpit said they had no qualms about being called sex workers.

She said any woman who wanted to work at the bar must be above 18 and expose herself as a sex worker to ensure her rights as an employee were recognised.

"But we don't encourage sex in our outlets. If our workers want to engage in such activities outside our premises, that is their personal matter," said the mother of a three-year-old girl.

Unlike many entertainment outlets where workers are treated like "modern day slaves", the "Can Do Bar" girls work eight hours a day with an hour's rest, voluntary overtime, 10-day paid holidays, 13 public holidays, sick leave and the right to form a union.

Besides its usual bar setting, the place was designed to comply with Thai labour law, while workers were given training on occupational health and safety standards, as well as on emergency procedures, first aid and sound system knowledge.

While the ground floor also has dancing polls, the second floor has an exhibition area or sex workers' museum showing a collection of adult magazines, books, posted letters covering 400 years of prostitution in the country, a computer with Internet access and a meeting room.

Pornpit said workers could rest on the third level.

The bar owners are also health-conscious, providing free condoms while all workers must go for monthly medical examinations and screening for HIV/AIDS which is high in the northern region.

"It's too early to say whether we are successful or not. We are getting good support from NGOs who organise parties and meetings at our place," said Pornpit.

Being a role model is not the only aim of the establishment.

"Opening a Sex Workers University is our long-term aim," said 35-year-old Nui Pitlai, who confessed to having entered the sex industry five years ago.

"Many people, including researchers, want to know about the industry, the workers and our problems. Our idea may look very ambitious but we are working towards that," she said.

The native of Chiang Mai said they were collecting historical facts and articles on the sex industry that could be useful for the general public.

"It's good for us, as we can share our experiences and problems with others, especially students, doctors, nurses and even monks. For example, doctors may feel uncomfortable to talk about sex education or usage of condoms to villagers and students," she added.

In fact, Nui said, she and some of her fellow workers had already been assisting government agencies to give sex education to students.

Furthermore, Nui said Empower and the bar had become a focal point for bar girls who wanted to marry foreigners and migrate to other countries.

"We use the Internet to contact our former colleagues who have already settled down in other countries. They can advise the other girls on the problems and what to expect if they migrate," she added.

For sex workers like Pornpit and Nui, the opening of the bar is one way to change the mindsets of people who consider sex workers as not human, and who can be abused and without rights to the legal process.

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