Mai Janta, 29, came to Thailand from Shan State with her family when she was a year old. Her brother had been conscripted to the Myanmar army and her family feared that he would never return if he had to join. "They knew if they took him to be a soldier, he would never come home," she says. The memory of her uncle was still fresh in their minds when they left -- She says he had joined before her brother was conscripted, and was left to die after he hurt his leg. She's been helping support her family since she was 10 years old, when she started her first job.

It wasn't until her mid-twenties that she started working in a go-go bar, where she earned more cash than any other job she had held before. Before that, she worked in childcare, cleaning, and even food service. She worked at a bakery, too, which she hated. From the northern border karaoke bars to the streets of Bangkok's Nana Plaza, the entertainment and sex industry's strong presence in the Land of Smiles isn't hard to miss. According to the 2019 Thailand Migration Report issued by the UN-funded International Organisation for Migration, it's estimated that there are about 300,000 sex workers in Thailand.

But not all of those workers are Thai nationals. Thailand is a regional hub for migrant workers, and the sex industry is no exception to that. The industry comprises women who come from surrounding countries, namely Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, to work and make at least double -- and sometimes 10 times as much -- the minimum daily wage of 325 baht, or almost US$11.