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The culture of women in Thailand


Everything is a question of age and sex. Seniority is a important part of the society in Thailand.

A younger person shall respect the older person.

When thai children write letters to their parents, they often begin their letter with the words "FATHER, MOTHER THAT I RESPECT" .

Thai girls used to live not far from their parents. A big part of the wages should be given to parents. Now things are changing.

With the industrialization of Thailand, many young Thai women are going to Bangkok to take their chance.

They almost continue to send money to support their parents.

But parents, far away from their children, have less influence on them.

In previous decades parents chose the mate. Nowadays many young girls in Thailand choose on their own.

Often Thai people continue to live in their parent's house even if they are old enough to live their own life.

Especially for girls, they should not leave their parent's home if they are not married.

If a thai girl is living alone, everybody gossip that she is a bad girl or a "MIA NOI" , mistress of a wealthy man.

In Thailand there is no pension when workers retire. So the only support for the old parents are their children.

Thai people don't like the westerner principle to send old parents in special nursing-home.

They say it is not a nice way to thank parents for all the goodness they did.

All the family shall live together. Children are the assurance for the parents.

But of course it doesn’t mean that you have to live with the whole family if you choose to marry a thai girl.

It’s enough if the thai girl still takes care of her family in the future.

That means financial support although it is a very small amount.

Thailand is a both conservative and modern country.

Thai women status is twisted between traditional / conservative and modern / western views.

This page tries to describe both views on some topics linked to Thai women status.


  • Conservative status

    Dating in Thailand is not similar to Western dating.

    Teenagers can be boyfriend-girlfriend without a kiss or holding hands during several years.

    When time has come, the boy speaks about the girl to his parents and they might agree or disagree.

    And the boy cannot go against his parents' decision. Explicit love gestures might be inappropriate in Thai culture.

  • Modern status

    Dating is very common now in Thailand and girls don't just devote their life to the first boyfriend that they meet.

    Explicit acts of love like holding hands, embracing, and kissing in public are no longer taboo in the eyes of teenagers.


  • Conservative status

    In Thailand it is unacceptable for any girl to have sex before they get married.

    Thai people usually link having sex with getting married.

    Thai culture doesn't allow boys and girls to stay overnight together even though they have no sex, except if they are in group of friends or family.

    In Thailand people wouldn't have sex before marriage while in a modern western couple, there is no commitment before having sex.

    It often said that "Man wants to be the first boy of his girlfriend while woman wants to be the last girl of her boyfriend".

    Values, attitudes and behavior of many girls in Thailand were in crisis because of excessive Western influences promoted by the mass media.

    To combat sexual promiscuity among teens, a Thai senator said she would launch a public campaign to encourage students to remain chaste until marriage.

    Conservatives blamed the media, Western culture and the disintegration of the family.

    They praise Thai values, in which women are expected to preserve their virginity and display sexual correctness.

  • Modern status

    Sex or premarital sex is happening much more than conservatives think but it is not considered such a "dirty" thing any longer.

    Many couples live together before getting married, to test out their relationship.

    Under-age and pre-marital sex is no longer taboo as long as there is some restraint.

    In a changing Thai society the advent of casual sex is bad news for prostitutes as their potential customers increasingly engage in pre-marital sexual relationships.

    In 2001 the ministry of public health said a study of 10 000 sex workers revealed each woman had, on average, only one customer a night, compared to an average of 1,5 a night only three years ago

    and three customers a night before the Asian financial crisis.

    Only 10 percent of men in their twenties were willing to admit to frequenting brothels, a drop from 55 percent six years ago.


  • Conservative status

    Thai society is still a society for men. In Buddhist conception, being a woman is less valued than being a man.

    Women still not have the same rights and same position in society as men.

    Woman in Thailand have not the power but are always the family head and take care about children and finances.

    Some Thai rich women or business women don't marry and stay single.

    Why should they marry? Thai society says that if they are rich, they don't need a husband.

    Some Thai men don't like intelligent women.

    Husbands shall of course take care and support their wife.

    For the wife, receiving nice gifts from her husband is important. She is able to show off to the society.

    As foreigners husbands are seen like rich people, a foreigner husband is expected to do better. Money is very important in Thai society.

    It is said that "When a Thai girl says I love you, it means I want you to take care of me".

    In the past, Thai women didn't work and depends on men.

    In Thailand there is a significant gap between average salaries earned by men and women as a result of the concentration of women in traditionally lower paying jobs.

  • Modern status

    There were 45 women among the 499 members of the House of Representatives, and 20 women in the 200 member Senate.

    There were 3 women in the 35 member Cabinet(2005 figures).

    In year 2005, Thai women are no longer required to take their husband's family name when they marry.

    The vast majority of the women in Thailand nowadays work and contribute as much to the household income as the men, sometimes even more.

    Nowadays many Thai men treat their wife, provided love and affection to her, and even helps out with household chores.

    Many Thai girls work abroad as sewer, hairdresser, waitress, cook, maid. It is a way to be independent and support their family.


  • Conservative status

    It is often said that when a girl in Thailand gets married, she loses her bargaining power towards her husband.

    Thai society is reluctant against women who get divorced.

    Many girls don't divorce in order to avoid gossip and blame.

    Still a few years ago men could ask for divorce if their wives were unfaithful but the contrary was false.

    Under existing laws only men can seek to annul an engagement or file for a divorce while women have to first prove their husbands have provided financial support to another woman.

    A woman in Thailand cannot charge her husband with rape.

    Ubiquitous soap operas advocate heroes raping their women as a means of expressing love.


  • Conservative status

    One cultural shock which happens between Thai wives and foreign husbands is the need to support a remote family in Thailand.

    When a man marries a Thai girl, it means he also marries her family as well.

    Girls in Thailand are educated to respect their parents and support them.

    So money shall be sent to them. Otherwise everyone gossip that children have a stone heart . Traditionally, women are the caregivers for the elderly.

    But as they are now in the workforce, taking care of old parents means more stress and strain for working women in Thailand.

  • Modern status

    Many Thai girls have their own apartment instead of living with their parents, however it doesn't mean that they are not close to their family and don't love or respect their parents.


  • Conservative status

    Education is not important for women as they need to find a husband.

  • Modern status

    Women in Thailand go to college, enjoy great education and freedom.

    Thai Women had equal access to higher education.

    More than 50% of the year's university graduates are girls.


  • Conservative status

    It's not just the lure of financial security but the "bad habits" of Thai men, say those Thai girls who have chosen Western men over their male compatriots for husbands.

    In Thailand girls complain that Thai men prefer to have fun together ("PAI THIAW") than going back home and take care about the family.

    After the monthly wages, Thai men are seen together in restaurants without their thai wives.

    They pretend having late meetings at the office and then they go to restaurants where there are singers, karaoke.

    Thai men have the bad reputation to be unfaithful and have sex with prostitutes.

    In 1999 sexual establishments increased to a number of 8,431 and a lot of these places are not in tourist towns like Patong, Patpong.

    Some women in Thailand complain about Thai men's bad habits, especially the drinking, gambling and womanizing, which they describe as being irresponsible to the family.

  • Modern status

    When talking to girls in Thailand "Why have you chosen a foreign husband ?".

    Many answer that foreigner men are more romantic, take care of their wife and tasks in the family are equally shared.

    The opinion of the wife is listened.


  • Conservative status

    In year 1998, Chulalongkorn University administrators has banned miniskirts as they see them as an invitation for rape.

    In year 2004, Songkran revelers have been told to avoid spaghetti-strap tops.

    In year 2004, following the speed with which nipple stickers have become trendy among teenagers, Culture Minister asked the police and the Consumer Protection Board

    to closely monitor fashion shows and publications in Thailand.

    Nipple stickers, an accessory popular among hot thai fashion models, have spun off the catwalk and gained popularity on the street,

    causing concern among conservatives that bras will become a thing of the past in Thailand.

  • Modern status

    Dressing is an individual's right.


  • Conservative status

    Powerful and rich Thai men sometimes have a "MIA NOI" , a second unofficial wife.

    The man supports everything for her, supports her children but in front of the society she is not recognized.

    Powerful and influential men in Thailand don't divorce but can have unofficially several minor wives.

    As long as he takes care of all of girls it is tolerated. This of course the Thai male point of view.

    In 2001 a study led by a Thai hospital revealed some insights on Thai men behavior on polygamy.

    The study showed that the typical Thai men who have minor wife or wives are mostly businessmen.

    The study showed that most girls in Thailand who become minor wives do so because they have become dependent on men and feel they do not have to work hard to be financially stable.

    Most of this group of girls were aged 20-30 years and were college graduates.

    The study showed that 33% of all minor wives had problems of insecurity, while another 33% were lured into the situation by men who lied about their marital status.

    Most women in Thailand wanted to end the marriage after learning about the minor wives, most men did not want to divorce their first wife.

    In 2004, a survey in Thailand, focusing on married men's extra-marital relations, was carried out among 1069 men.

    About 66.4% say they have sex with other women.

    More than 80% of respondents find it unacceptable for married women to have affairs or even date men without telling them they are married.

  • Modern status

    Most young Thai men and women nowadays are very self-confident, independent, and intelligent.

    There is a large number of Thai girls who are well traveled, educated, successful in their careers, and have a loving and supportive family.


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