Thai Culture and Society

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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At present, Thai culture and society are changing dramatically when compared with the past. However, the issue of sexual relationship, especially among women, is still forbidden due to the value and culture of Thai society. It is known to everybody that sexual topics are considered as something really private and not be discussed openly. Thai male and female adolescents also lack the experience of formal sex educational informations. They become afraid to open up or ask for advices from their family and society which often led to incorrect informations, understanding, or attitudes by perceiving informations on media.

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In addition, it also led to many social issues in several cases. Therefore, Unplanned pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases and illegal abortion in Thailand have been rising due to conservative attitude toward sex, ineffective sex education, and inappropriate sexual contents on media.

Sexual health has been a rising important public heath issues. In a survey, 47% of Thai adolescents aged 17 or younger reported having sexual intercourse and one in four become pregnant (Allen DR, Carely JW, Manopaiboon C, 2003). 54 of every 1,000 live births comes from teen mothers who are aged 15-19 higher than United States (Jon Fernquest, 2013). In particular, many pregnant adolescents and adolescent believe that the lack of communication about sex between parents and themselves, as well as limited parental supervision, create an environment where they may decide to have sex without proper knowledge and without contraception. Due to low rates of contraception used by adolescents, a growing burden of HIV and other transmitted diseases in young people also increasing. With 9,470 new cases a years, it was reported that 80% came from unsafe sex. According to Ministry of health (Jon Fernquest, 2012),

About 62% of the 464,414 people known to be infected with the virus in the country are men. The stereotype society has contributed unhealthy life style that influence adolescents to engage in unprotecting sexual activities. Male adolescents are encouraged to tell stories of sexual intercourse as a way of boosting their status while females are encourages to keep their traditional submissiveness. In addition to the stereotype supporting unprotected sex, the illegal abortion is also increasing. Abortion is considered to be a life-destroying act that constitutes a serious Buddhist sin. The early Siamese legal code, the Three Seals Law of Rama 1 (1805 AD) contained punishment by flogging, fine and imprisonment for anyone causing an abortion. However, following a 10-year revision of the criminal code during the regime of Prime Minister Phibulsongkram, it was allowed in cases of risk to a woman’s health or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or other sexual crimes.

A coexistence in a society of traditional and contemporary values form a complex context for the transition from children to adult for developing and evaluating of sexual education interventions for teenagers. Thai adolescents, traditionally, have been expected to move smoothly from childhood into adulthood while respecting their religions and their parents. Females are required to be submissive, modest, and uninterested in sex until marriage. For example, Hormones the series is a teen drama television series and first broadcast in 2013. The series show the lives and relationship of a group of secondary school students as they go through many issues. Hormones was made with a style more commonly found in United States and featured controversial issues such as teenage sex, pregnancy, and homosexuality. There were some controversial scenes such as students attempting to have sex in classroom and a female student visiting an illegal abortion clinic after losing her virginity. Even though the aims was to provoke the audience, mostly teenagers, to think for themselves, some members of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) suggested that the show including indecent thoughts and scenes which might be in violation of the Public Broadcasting Act (Hormones series ‘To be re-edited, 2013). It was also received negative criticism from parents and elderly people in society, especially conservative voices. Clearly, most of the tradition and values toward sex in Thailand are influences by adults.

Thailand is noticed for being a male-dominated patriarchal society, and the gender roles and expectations for Thai men. While Thai females have to be submissive, Thai males are advocating to display their sexual experiences with other males. They would show off their friends that they were a man and doing well in having sex with girls because they think that it was cool to have sexual experiences. Sometimes, they would show the numbers of girls who they had sexual experiences together. For instance, there was a telling story in Pantip, a popular Thai-language website and discussion forum, about how many times he conquered women. The story include the numbers of girls who he had sexual intercourse together which is 27 girls. He think that it is cool to have many sexual experience. The story was read more than 10,000 readers. Most of the comments are praising him as their role model such as I want to be like him, I accept your courage, and I want more story. (Sharing 18+ experience, 2015)

Sex education is commonly acknowledge an important factor of young people’s formal education because adolescents are at a point in life when they are beginning to reflect on sexual identity and make independent decision about sexual relationship. Thai culture and tradition, gender, and age lead to ineffective sex education in school. Age and sexuality have a strong influences on how students perceive sexual information (Chulanee Thianthai, 2019). A recent research showed that sex educators still are still reluctant to teach what young people feel is essential. However, educators also argue that they can not provide useful information due to the contents from the centre(Ingham, 2005). The experience of sexual pleasure, sex-based differences in motivation and expectations in sexual relationships, the distinction between love and dating, same-sex relationships, preventive measures against pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and option for teenage mothers are the topics that may be missing from sex education(Hirst, 2013). It can be concluded that sex education in school narrowly focuses on biological content and is incorrectly delivered throughout the school system.

Sex education was first included by the Ministry of Education as a component of the school curriculum in 1987. The further attempts were added to include to make it more comprehensively as part of both primary and secondary education, but it was not official until 2001 with the launch of the Basic Education Core Curriculum that sex education become a mandatory part of Thai Health and physical course(Thaweesit and Boonmongkon, 2012). In this day, sex education in Thailand narrowly focuses on content related to biological contents, pregnancy cycle and prevention, sexual transmitted decrease, and contraception, usually condom. Although the aim of sex education is to provide useful information, it is not what young people needs.

The contents should based on the perspective of young people rather than the opinions of health and educational professionals. Narrow contents in school cause misunderstanding on sexual informations which encourage students to look further informations on their own. This action can lead to many serious issue. For example, many females adolescents do not know how use condom because they are not taught in school. School only teaches us what is condom, but the educators do not teach us how to use it. Some girls even think that condom is for male’s responsibility. They do not realize that condom is important for both genders. One consequence is that Thai youth are engaging in premarital sex at a younger age each year and unplanned pregnancy is on the rise (UNFPA and National Economic and Social Development Board ,2013). Sex education taught in schools should accept the fact that premarital sex and gender are very much a part of reality for members of this generation.

In many western countries, the most effective sex education would be taught in a straightforward manner that viewed sexual relationships as normal during adolescence. Sex education should not overly depend on lecture and textbooks that have been for many years without any updates. Furthermore, many educators are seen as inefficient by students to teach this subject. Most educator are elderly people with strict and conservative attitude to ward sex which the students can not trust them for discussion on sexual issues. According to the research, a student said that she will not discuss or ask for advice on sexual issues with her teacher because it is too embarrassing and beyond that a teacher will not understand her due to a huge gap of age (Chulanee Thianthai, 2019, p.188). To conclude, the teaching style is not allowed opportunities for students to discuss and share their points of view. Moreover, the contents are not updated to this day with real-life examples. The educators should be knowledgeable and open-minded. The students need more than reading materials. The teaching style should include pictures, video clips, movies for better understanding in real life situation.

Talking about sexual relationship in Thailand was forbidden due to the values and culture of Thailand. Therefore, many parents could not provide proper sexual informations to their children. The children then try to look from other sources which could lead to misleading informations and result in complication in the future. Social network is the sources that most teenagers can access effortlessly which contain wide range of sexual informations that might influences true or false informations. Even though internet can be consider as a sword with pros and cons, Teenagers have a desire and interest in sex as part of their learning development, and may be exposed to the risk of using the internet inappropriately when accessing. There are many pornography, such as in pictures and video, which may stimulate sexual activities. In a research shows that the internet was used for searching sexual contents and most of adolescents use Google and facebook to chat with other people or search for pornography. Most teenagers also use social media to discuss on sex(U-sa Biggins, 2012).

In today’s society, media, television, movies, music, magazines, and internet, have become important provider of sexual model and norms. Media is important sources of cultural norms that adolescents with as they learn to express express affection, love and intimacy in ways consistent with their own values…and general social expectations and scripts about adolescent sexuality. Adolescences who are between 12-18 years are the most important period for sexual exploration((Pinquart, 2010, p. 40). In this age, lots of teenagers also likely to consume sexual influences though internet. For example, a song called Kun Hoo(?????) was a controversial in 2011 due to the sexual lyrics and choreography. The video of a live performance was a viral because the singer was provocative. She was scratching her pants making the moaning boys come to the front stage. However, The Permanent Secretary stated that he had received complaints from the public and appointed Deputy Permanent Secretary to check the clip. Even though the clip was modified, people already knew about it, especially teenager. They filmed themselves dancing to a song. This forms of media contents can stimulate sexual activities.

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Thai Culture and Society. (2019, May 08). Retrieved from