Sexual release is a basic human need but it has always been subject to social norms, law and morality. In Thai prisons, regulations place even the internal needs of inmates under the state’s vigorous control. But the state can never fully control the force of human desire.
Sexual activities happen in the everyday reality of prison life, though consensual sexual activities are largely limited to partners of the same sex. Sexual activities in prisons occur both among lovers and as pragmatic commerce.
According to the Department of Corrections Thailand’s prisons house some 269,745 inmates whose gender does not correspond to their biological sex as of 24 December 2015.
These are stories that ‘outsiders’ may have never heard.
Yong, an inmate in a northern prison for over 3 years, recounts similar experiences of in-jail wedding ceremonies. Wardens were invited to chair a simple ceremony to announce the coming together of a couple.
At the end of the ceremony, the couple would host a small reception with food from the Prison Welfare Shop for their peers. –
Yong added that some influential inmates — referred to as ‘big bros’ — succeeded in brewing liquor for their guests. Secretly, inmates fermented liquor by buying bread and yeast.
The yeast was used in a fermentation process with glutinous rice in closed-lid buckets. When yeast eats sugar, it releases alcohol.
While Thai prisons are accepting of weddings and coupling, sexual intimacy remains inherently troubled since prisons are designed to make inmates feel as though they are being constantly watched.
While intercourse needs privacy, the prison is a place with few hidden corners. Someone always sees or hears. Perhaps only ‘big bros’ can use toilets to masturbate alone. No one dares to disturb them.