Americans wear rings on their left hands, right? To show you are married?
Last night I went down to the red light district to visit my friend John.* His grandmother wants him to get married and have children so she can have great grandchildren. John is gay and I don’t think his grandmother knows this. We haven’t had a talk about it yet and I am praying for wisdom when we do.
John’s grandmother’s wishes sparked a conversation on wedding rings, husbands/wives and marriage.
“Are you married?” Hannah,* asked, pointing to my ring finger. I just met Hannah last night.
I explained that my dad gave me this ring as a promise for my future husband and I’d give the ring to him when I married. Natasha,* a man who underwent sex reassignment surgery to become a woman, listened in.
I asked Hannah if she had a significant other.
“I have a son,” Hannah told me. “But no husband.”
Her boyfriend left her and now the responsibility of raising their son rests on her.
“Is your son in Chiang Mai?” I asked.
“No, I am not able to care for him,” she said sadly. She pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of him. He’s living with family in her hometown. She came to work in the red light district to make money to send back to him.
I’m discovering that many Thai women who work in Chiang Mai’s red light district have boyfriends or husbands who’ve left them. This also happened to Angie,* my friend who recently became a believer.
Many times women will meet a guy in their teens or early 20s and see a future with them. The girls are “all in” emotionally. They invest everything, but the guy isn’t as attached and when the responsibility increases, sometimes with the birth of a child, they leave. Their love was conditional. The girls are hard-pressed for money to care for their kid, so they head to the place that guarantees quick money: the red light district.
Red light districts attract hundreds of Western men who’ve come to Thailand specifically for the sex trade. Some “stumble upon” it. The red light district also lures Western and Asian men who travel to Thailand on business trips.
It makes me sick. And sad. And angry.
My heart hurts for these women. I want so badly for them to leave this industry. I want them to know they are fearfully and wonderfully made and God loves them. I want something better for them. I want them to know unconditional love, God’s love.
I want them to know promises aren’t always broken.