Did You Know? - Can Do Bar & Cabbages And Condoms Restaurant
Can Do Bar & Cabbages And Condoms Restaurant
The Can Do Bar run by the Empower Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand is an ‘experimental dream-bar’ owned and operated by sex workers. It offers a space which is fun, relaxed and non-judgmental with drinks, music, dance and other performances. The bar has ample space to sit and chat, and also a dance floor. The entire space is used to give a new face to advocacy on sex workers’ rights with slogans, messages, archives including posted letters, t-shirts and so on. The sex workers at the bar have also been involved in performing skits with messages such as “check-point” which talked about safer sex through usage of condoms. The bar offers a dynamic and activist space disseminating information on sexuality.
In addition to all the entertainment, what is unique about the bar is that it adheres to the Thai Labour Laws and the recommended Occupational Health and Safety Standards. Besides these the bar maintains high standards for physical safety and well-being for its employees and visitors. Women feel privileged to work here as the bar presents a fair and safe working environment and offers social welfare as part of employment, voluntary overtime which is fully paid, 10 paid holidays in addition to 13 public holidays in a year, paid sick leave, no staff salary cuts, and staff are encouraged to form a worker’s association or union. The staff have an 8 hour schedule with a 1 hour break for rest, as well as one day off a week.
The best part about the bar is that it acknowledges sex work as work, promotes rights of sex workers, encourages an environment to talk freely about safer sex and sexuality and is not guided by moralistic notions of sexuality and sex work
The Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant was established to support in part the activities of Population & Community Development Association (PDA) a non-profit organization founded in 1974 by Mechai Viravaidya, the former Thai Minister of Health. The restaurants offer a pleasant dining experience in several locations around Thailand. They are currently in Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Rai. Not only do these restaurants offer excellent traditional Thai food and a selection of international cuisines, but they also promote the health and safety aspects of condom use in a fun and amusing manner. All proceeds from the restaurants are used to fund the social development programmes of PDA. PDA supports birth control, environmental conservation, rural development and AIDS awareness.
Cabbages and Condoms is the only restaurant in the world dedicated to birth control. The restaurant was conceptualised to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning. The idea was to make condoms as common, easily available and accessible to all as cabbages, in order to counter the population and health related problems in Thailand.
The Cabbages and Condoms restaurant is uniquely decorated with condoms from all over the world plus messages and photos that support family planning. The world’s largest collection of national brand condoms is displayed on the walls. The restaurant has cartoons of condoms for various trades and professions woven into the fabric of the carpet which goes up the stairs in the restaurant. Instead of after-dinner mints, there are bowls of condoms located at the exits. The restaurant also has a souvenir shop where rural Thai products as well as souvenirs which promote information on family planning are sold. The management proudly declares, “Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy”, a message that is displayed on T-shirts and artefacts for sale. PDA uses the money from sales for AIDS awareness, family planning, preserving the environment, rural reconstruction, youth development, and other laudable causes. So, next time you are in Thailand, go to Cabbages and Condoms. It’s a fun place to visit, eat some Condom Salad, and pick up gifts for friends.