“Just because I’m Thai doesn’t mean I’m a prostitute”

Yechiela Pojanamesbaanstit wants to break the stereotype of Thai women. Photo is from her own private collection

Yechiela Pojanamesbaanstit is tired of people thinking she is a prostitute just because she is Thai.

In October 2015 she wrote her first article to the Danish newspaper Information. It tells a story about a modern Thai woman being fed up with the outdated stereotyping of Thai women today. Being a Thai has caused her many unpleasant experiences, but she cannot and will not change her “slanted eyes” – instead she will open up the eyes of the narrow-minded.

“With my nationality and my Thai face, people have the same prejudice: they think I will take their husbands or boyfriends or that I might be a prostitute,” Yechiela says.

Yechiela has no interest in stealing another woman’s husband. Not at all. Instead, she is interested in renewing the typical Western assumption about women from Thailand. She believes in change and education and that the freedom of speech is the key to make this happen. Not until she came to Denmark she feels able to speak her mind and challenge society without being afraid or punished.

In 2015 she fled from Thailand to Denmark where she is seeking political asylum. With Denmark guaranteeing its citizens freedom of speech, Yechiela thought she would find a nation with a broader mindset, but instead was disappointed to experience something else.

“You never expect any Thai woman to be a refugee in Denmark. No, we Thai women are considered to be economic migrants, and it’s very rare to think we actually come here to seek legal protection and political asylum,” says Yechiela.

In the beginning the wrong view on Thai women was not the issue nearest to Yechiela’s heart. After living in a Danish asylum center, where she was judged and generalised not only by Danes, but also from the other asylum residents, all these prejudices drove her to fight and protect the dignity of being a Thai woman.

“I have to fight with so many Iranian asylum women who gossip about me, Arab asylum men who try to convert me to a Muslim woman instead of an ”unholy” Thai woman, and the Danish staff women think that I do prostitution work every time I leave the asylum center for the city,” she tells.

If they had not jumped to conclusions but followed her when she went into the city, they would have seen that in fact she went to visit the main library in Aarhus. If they had tried to speak to her, they would have found out that she is an ambitious woman who believes in God, and working hard to speak the voices for many Thais. She is anything but the distorted stereotype of a “Thai prostitute”. She is a modern woman.


“No one believes I am a woman of dignity”
Her wish for renewed view on Thai women was conveyed to the general public in October 2015 when the Danish newspaper Information published a total issue only written by refugees in Denmark. In her article ”Ingen tænker, at jeg er en kvinde med værdighed” (=No one believes I am a woman of dignity) Yechiela promotes the educated Thai women who provide themselves or/and their families by making a living by being local politicians, making street food or women who starts their own business and open shops; women, who turn their back to the sex industry in Thailand.

Several months before this particular issue of the newspaper was being produced, she already contacted several Danish journalists and people from International Media Support (IMS) in an attempt to report her view on the military dictatorship and the monarchy networks in Thailand. In the meantime, a journalist from Information got in touch with Yechiela and wanted her to share her experience being a refugee in Denmark

“The head of the group from IMS is currently grouping me and other refugee reporters together, so we can continue our jobs from our previous countries. A woman from Information visited us and asked us to tell our stories, and this is how I started my career with Information newspaper,” says Yechiela.

Her passion for justice and her writing skills turned out to be of benefit to her inside the asylum center too. She wrote to the boss of the asylum center every time she experienced unfair treatment, and she reported to the Danish Immigration Service too. Now she has received help from DIS to communicate between their asylum center’s staff with her.

“They start to show respect for me, and they feel both shame and guilt for at first having jumped to conclusions so fast. In the beginning they did not have enough wisdom to look deep into Thai society and the refugee issue from Thailand,” Yechiela says.

She will continue to fight against the prejudice about Thai women. She knows it will take long time, but it is worth it. According to her it is not easy to constantly being judged and always being suspected of being a sex worker. Her hope and dream for a better world is stronger than any painful experiences.

“I thank God to protect me from all my problems and for healing my heart from all the suffering beings a Thai woman in Denmark,” she says.

Using the tool ”freedom of speech” might be the key for her open the eyes of the world and reduce the lack of vision. Yechiela Pojanamesbaanstrit has already opened up for a debate of a new view and will continue doing so.


11 Comments on ““Just because I’m Thai doesn’t mean I’m a prostitute””

  1. It is the 21st century. But I still hear wierd stereotypical comments from people about Thai and other Asian women. The comments seem to reinforce a stereotypical belief about Thai women being sex toys or objects .Also, wierd comments along the lines of thinking that the majority of sex workers in Thailand are “trafficked” by force into their profession by relatives. I am sure that the vast majority of people in Thailand would not do such a thing to a women or child.
    And Interpol as well as other groups work hard to fight this situation.

  2. This has a lot to do with the failure of the Thai society, culture and government. Many of the Thai women that end up in prostitution come from the much neglected Isaan communities of Thailand. Many resort to prostitution for economic reasons as they can make more in a a few days as a prostitute than they can having some meager manual job. I believe the government needs to take more effort into educating and protecting its own people. There are also cultural issues at the root of this, Isan culture has become very materialistic and shallow… people are judged by their wealth. They also have a weird definition of good and bad and a morality in which the ends justify the means. A good woman is one who takes care of her family and sends money to her parents, it doesn’t matter how she does it. Would be willing to discuss this in depth if you are ever interested.

    I live in South Africa

  3. Nice job,Nice… well done.

    God be with your word.

    I wish you will be great politician
    and being new hope for expose dark side of Thailand and cure pain of poor people who had same fate like you in the future (surely, my families too)

    Take care and be safe there.

  4. This is what is happening now in the so called newspaper i contributed my articles to them: it is about the inequality of the feminism that treat each refugee women with double standards…

    The feminist revolution can actually ignite from a group of woman with ugly faces who fight for the ugly women to get the same equal opportunity in the job, so they can have the same opportunity to be upgraded as same as the women with beautiful faces.

    In Asian or Middle Eastern countries, we are still far from this feminist revolutions, women are still living under patriarchal conditions that we must do anything to please the men and to impress the men so we can get success in life.

    But it doesn’t mean that there are no women who try to revolute this patriarchal system, some of these fighters can be group of ugly women who have less chances to upgrade life opportunity or they can be group of beautiful women who have justice hearts and believe that women should have the equality to the men in terms of intellects and ability.

    Among feminists, we can divide into 2 groups , the feminists with ugly faces and the feminists with beautiful faces.

    The feminists with ugly faces always have the competitive feeling her minds not only with the men, but also with the women who use their bodies to get success in job, or fighting with the beautiful feminists who seem to have better chance to get upgraded in the same work place.

    The danger of the ugly feminist is that, when they have power, they can behave as a double standard performance in a non democratic way to the
    feminist with beautiful face, or towards the women who use their beauty for success. They will choose to promote whatever that comes around to their ideology of “feminism”
    or try to change the world to be the way they want , forgetting that to be a feminist can end up being a dictator in the democratic country too.

    They can steal the ideas of the beautiful feminists and give the credit for the ugly feminists those she want to support them, because those women symbolise her.

    The real example bases on real situation in 2015:

    A feminist editor of a far left wing weekend newspaper of a very small rich country in Scandinavia, have been observed by many beautiful refugee reporters about her double standard treatment that she abuses her power to promote the ugly feminist women to be more successful in job than those who are beautiful, it has been observe that she has abused her power to ignore and promote only the ones who symbolises herself.

    We are not so sure if this is because of her basic bias in her mind and try to make balance on opportunities of refugees or because she is just a hypocrite who want to label herself as someone who work and fight for refugees but cannot stand the refugees who seem to be smarter than her and she must cut their legs and their arms because of her real feeling she cannot stand if a poor asylum woman from a stupid country should be smarter than her.

    With the power in hand, She can choose to promote someone who symbolises herself instead of supporting others who symbolise her rival which are : beautiful by birth or by taking care of themselves but smart , even though these two women have the same performance or better performances.

    it is very corrupted to abuse the job position as an editor to discriminate people’s opportunity in the workplace and this violates the human rights in terms of economic opportunity just because they are feminist but born beautiful or not having the same feminism attitudes but also smart and hard working.

    Someone born beautiful or look after themselves well does not mean they use the sexual organ for better opportunity in the work place to be better than their colleagues.

    It is about the state of mind of how a person will have a good common sense of justice to treat people equally when they call themselves a feminist or when they call
    themselves an editor working to fight for justice for the poorer people, but at the same times, it turns out as a hypocrite in the democratic country that abuses the power to
    treat people with double standards.

    In conclusion, it is very important that gender equality and feminism must be promoted everywhere in the world BUT we must be aware that the feminists should control their minds to be democratic and be fair to everybody who are born beautiful, or born with patriarchal atmosphere, educate those who just came out from the ideas that women must please the men to get success in the work place that it must be mental revolution , not by giving double standard treatment in the undemocratic ways that lead to bad image in the organisation that the feminists are just a hypocrite and treating people with undemocratic double standard.

  5. Dear Maria,

    We Thai women feel very grateful to your helps and sympathy so much, we feel that any publishers that have you to work with them are very blessed and very lucky. I wish that more and more justice and understanding on Thai women will bring dignity of Thai women to the international standard.

    Thank you so much again from our hearts.

    Yechiela and the rest Thai women in the whole world….

  6. Dear all and thank you very much for all your comments.

    I can only agree on Yechiela is amazing, and the fact she is speaking up for an often forgotten issue is outstanding, because a lot of Thai women are suffering from these prejudices every single day.

    To Frank: Thank you so much, I have now corrected “Arabic” to “Arab”. You are absolutely right, the latter refers to the people, and that is what was my intension in the this particular sentence.

    Best wishes, Maria Andreasdottir

  7. Great article, and yes, there is a lot to overcome. My Thai wife and I have had people assume this and that and we called them out. Turns out that the American husband asked his own Thai wife whether her accusations were true or not so she could substantiate them face to face. The husband called back later saying he apologized but his wife did not want to meet. He knew the truth by then.
    By the way, English-wise, Arabic is the language, and Arab is the people. I noticed that you used Arabic men in your great article and it should be corrected to Arab men. We were in Iran 5 years at the time of the Shah. Wonderful place there. We lived all over, including near Russia up on the Caspian.

  8. Thank you very much for your comments and your encouragement, there are actually many good Danes who are my good friends but it is necessary to give more time for some of them to learn about what is the root of Thai women problems to end up in overseas because of their parents have been oppressed by the very low rice price harvested for the elite people to harvest to sell all over the world.

    If the poverty of Thai farmers has finished, then then nobody would like to drive their daughters to try to get the western husbands through the tourism areas.

  9. I’m very happy for your article! I had been working in Thailand in the beginning of the 80-ies and later visiting TH many times. I have speaking “my throat sore” of the Thai womans dignity and theirs proudness but always been met with suspicion. When speaking of my time, as unmarried man,I was always commented with a smile with reference to the sexindustry. Now married many years but I still remember all crazy comments on my travels to TH. People in general recognized me as hunting prostitutes.
    and I felt very downgraded when met by such comments.
    Yechiela, I will continue to support your attitude and wish you good luck
    Best regards Bo

  10. Well done Yechiela,,,, this is good to see you can reacy about these narrow minded danish people ,, living in their own little world of imaginations and follow “Jante Loven”,,,, i am danish myself,,, and live in your country on my 25th year now. Good luck with your mission.

  11. I am shocked by this story but thank Khun Yechiela for her effort
    in trying to educate those ignorant people in Denmark to have a
    better understanding of the Thai women who are mostly hard working
    intelligent and dignified. Thailand has the highest businesswomen
    in the World according to the Time magazine!

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