A Christian worker in Thailand recently travelled to different hubs of activity across Thailand, and brings this report:
Recently, I set out to visit a few key locations to meet with some key Westerners who are working on the ground to bring real solutions to this problem in Thailand.
I talked with them about the issues and complexities surrounding these issues, the rise in number of people bringing awareness and wanting to help, and their sometimes misguided presuppostions and actions that end up doing more harm than good.
My first stop was a border town in Thailand near Myanmar (Burma).
• Children were often being sold by their parents or relatives for as little as $15 us or less.• Strategies have to be worked out to where those helping are not perpetuating a problem by “buying the children” from the prospective traffickers.• Finding the ones who need help is much more complex and requires the groups to be on the ground, learning some language, ministering among the people, and forming trusted contacts in the right places at the right time.• Corruption in certain levels of government make it almost impossible to effectively work through local law enforcement.• There are female “recruiters” who are sent to canvass poor areas and find children to purchase. Families need education.• Rescuing children means that you are now responsible for them until and through adulthood.• Some NGO’s can help the children but are not doing anything to introduce them to Jesus and care for their hearts even though they would consider themselves “Christian” in background.
My next stop was the big capital city of Bangkok.
• There are women who are working in Bangkok who are not trafficked and are not under compulsion, but they are trapped in prostitution and kept in it through the cycles of poverty, debt, domestic violence, and care of their relatives back home• Helping women who have been trafficked is a highly dangerous and complex work that very few are actually involved in doing.• Many people are raising “awareness” about human trafficking, but many times the resources do not make it to the few on the ground who are doing the work. Do your homework before you support.• Help is offered to women, but sometimes there are many factors that keep them from receiving the help. Intimidation and threats of death to the women’s family members back home are some things used against them.• Most of the women working in the sex industry in Bangkok are from the Northeast of Thailand, the poorest part where their parents may earn less than $5 a day for a hard day’s work. However, these daughters can make $30 is less than an hour. The issue of poverty and job creation has to be dealt with if this situation will ever change. Demand must cease as well.• Men coming to Thailand are not just old white foreign men, but men from every nation. I also saw many deformed and handicapped men. Their need is not always simply for sex. They are coming to fill deficits in their own hearts.
My last stop was in the infamous port city of Pattaya.
• Pattaya, and its surrounding areas, are part normal Thailand and part “sin city.”• Men from many nations are everywhere looking at women as if they were truly a product to be bought and sold.• Teens were offering me drugs on the streets in broad day light and prostituting themselves. I witnessed an elderly European man making a deal for sex with a 15 year old boy who was also trying to work his 14 year old sister into the deal.• I saw women who looked like they were grandmothers, wearing heavy makeup, and prostituting themselves. I saw many girls who I knew were Isaan, on the streets being watched over by their pimps who were my age.
In every place I visited and ministered, I learned that there are no easy solutions, no easy answers to the problems. Many well meaning people have wanted to do something about the problem, but they have not yet fully understood the complex local issues involved.