[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

CHILD LABOUR (More foreign workers

Bangkok Post (24 November 1997)

More foreign workers join sex industry
As fewer Thai girls enter flesh trade

Poona Antaseeda

War and poverty are bringing more and more girls from abroad into the
Thai sex industry.

Girls from Burma and China, aged 12-18, are more in demand since Thai
girls from the North have been persuaded not to join the flesh trade.

But as the number of Thai girls involved in prostitution declines the
number of Burmese and Chinese has risen sharply, says Wanchai Boonphacra,
of the Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights.

The centre's public education and campaign team chief, says: "Most alien
girls, especially from Burma and China, come to Thailand knowing they
will work in brothels, massage parlours or cafes." 

However, he says it is difficult to know how many girls are involved
although in every brothel raided by the centre over the past two years
children had been found.

He says: "Last month, the centre repatriated 10 Chinese girls. All of
them knew beforehand that they would have to be prostitutes. They said
most of the girls in their villages had come to do similar jobs in
Thailand and were sending money home to build houses or buy electric

Most Chinese girls come from provinces in Yunan state. They travel via
Chiang Tung in Burma and then sneak into Thailand at Mae Sai in Chiang

The Burmese girls come from Chiang Tung, Ta Khi Lek, opposite Mae Sai,
and Yong and come from minority groups such as the Tai Yai and Mon.

Sanphasit Koompraphant, director of the centre, said many low-class
entertainment places used foreign child prostitutes.

Prof Kusol Sunthorntada, a researcher with Mahidol University's Institute
for Population and Social Research, says: "The shortage of northern Thai
girls, who used to account for most child prostitutes, has forced dirty
business operators to import girls from neighbouring countries." 

Their pleasant character, white skin and beauty were similar to northern

She says alien children working in Thailand fall into four categories:
labourers, prostitutes, the homeless, and those of no established
identity. "Among these, the child prostitutes are the most abused," she

Not only are they badly treated by the brothel owners but by their
customers. Operators often make them work without a day off, steal their
wages and warn them not to leave their work places telling them they will
be arrested as illegal immigrants. Some are beaten for refusing to work
and customers may become violent if the girls refuse to perform various
sex acts.

Prof Kusol and her teammate conducted research into children involved in
five areas: fisheries, construction, industrial and factory work, the
service sector, and agriculture, in 14 border provinces and the Bangkok

Her research showed that sex work was the highest paid with children
earning about 6,281 baht a month. Much of it was spent on clothes and

Children were found to enter Thailand for economic reasons, due to the
desire for material goods and because of the negligence and corruption of
Thai officials.

Chinese girls wanted to flee poverty and Burmese girls poverty and war.
They often also wanted to broaden their horizons and get a taste of
modern life.

A cabinet resolution last June, which eased the restrictions on alien
workers, has also encouraged more children to come to Thailand, says the

Montri Sintawichai, general secretary of the Child Protection Foundation,
is also warning that the country's Amazing Thailand tourist campaign for
1998-1999 will bring more children into the sex trade.

Mr Montri said the Visit Thailand Year in 1987 had led to many more
children being brought into popular tourist spots.