When you hear “Bangkok,” what is the first thing that you imagine?
To me, it is be the beautiful bustling city, full of life and lovely, polite people who smile at you even though they barely know you.
To me, it is my home, where I have spent 20% of my life, and where I have somehow grown up to become an independent person.
But I am sure that is not how it is for the rest of the world. When people from other countries come here, most have a stereotypical idea centred on their biased worldviews -- that this place is actually meant for them to release their tension or, in simple words, give them hedonistic pleasure.
They will find pleasure of any sort that they look for in this bustling city.
And from that need and want, some Arab folk are no different, and they are here for the same reasons and that too with their governments’ money.
Fun, isn’t it? Some assume that any woman, Thai or non-Thai, is sort of approachable in a certain manner to be talked into what they want for themselves. Pathetic, no?
Let me give you some small facts about this city. This country is one of the most peaceful countries; it is where people love animals, and treat them kindly.
People are very family-oriented, and most start their humble family lives very early on, and most importantly, no matter what gender or sexual orientation you belong to, people here will accept you and will give you full respect.
Bangkok also has a very high employment rate for women, and it is quite safe for us to live independently in the city.
If we are to talk about the “notorious” sex-business, that only exists in very limited parts of this huge city in places like Soi Cowboy, Nana, and some parts of Silom, and that too is legalised.
They pay the government a very high tax, and feed their families off their income. So, the next time you try to haggle with or abuse a sex worker, think twice. Think of why she or he is in this profession in the first place.
It is common to see countless men and women from all around the globe come here for paid sex.
So, some of them assume that the whole place is a filthy, dirty, modern-day brothel of some sort, and anyone and everyone who walks on the streets can be approached for just that. And they can catcall you any time.
But let me clarify something. I am talking about a very small portion of people in Bangkok who look at you in such disgusting ways that invisible things crawl in disgust inside you.
I have been living in Bangkok for more than five years now, and not once was I either harassed or catcalled by a local, nor have I seen locals teasing locals.
I have travelled here alone, mostly at odd hours of the day and the night, being sober and not so sober. But I was never made to feel unsafe, rather, was safely taken home by local taxi drivers.
I have been working in the same place for the last three years, and I have been made to feel uncomfortable only by particular groups of men.
Now, the question is, why am I writing this to vent about the tendency of particular groups of men to harass women in Bangkok all of a sudden?
It’s because I was recently harassed in my workplace, and I was thoroughly disturbed by the nerves he had.
Some assume that the whole place is a filthy, dirty, modern-day brothel of some sort, and anyone and everyone who walks on the streets can be approached
Today, while I was going to take my lunch, I saw a very pretty-eyed burqa-clad lady whom I met a few days back in the elevator, trying to calm her infant down. The infant had almost turned blue from all the crying.
She looked at me, and I remembered her as the other day she tried to talk to me in broken English asking where I come from.
This time, another child and her husband, I assumed, were sitting and busily eating food while the poor woman struggled to calm the infant down.
I said a polite hello to her and left. I was at my table eating when I noticed that the man with her was walking towards me and saying something.
I was confused as to why he was talking to me in the first place. So, I took off my headphones, and noticing a cigarette between his lips, I assumed he was asking for a lighter.
I politely told him I didn’t have a lighter. But he still stood there with a funny look in his eyes and started to ask me weird questions about my current address, age, etc, and finally he asked: “Can I have your number?”
When I asked him why, he replied: “I want to talk to you.” I plainly said no. But he still stood there asking me why and taking out his wallet.
That was when I politely asked him to leave and showed him my badge. I told him to leave immediately, or else I would take him to the guards.
And the funny thing is, he had the guts to come and verbally harass me in front of 10 other people, with his wife (possibly) sitting right behind him with children. It was disturbing. I felt outraged and wanted to physically harm him. This is how this place is stereotyped.
Is this because certain people consider this whole city a brothel, or is it that women everywhere are approached regardless of a setting like this?
What reason is behind such behaviour and mentality?
The next time I see him in the premises, he is going to be sorry.