600,000+ Trapped in
Human Trafficking in Thailand
Human Trafficking in Thailand
Human trafficking is one of the primary and most devastating human rights violations in today’s world, and Thailand has over half a million individuals living in slavery, according to the global slavery index. While there has been significant effort to decrease human trafficking in Thailand, there is still lots of work to be done.
Sex slavery and forced labor are the two primary forms of human trafficking in Thailand.
In this webinar we will cover
Thailand is a destination for sex tourism
Thailand has emerged as a destination country for sex tourism, and while sex work and prostitution are technically illegal in Thailand, the sex tourism industry in Thailand’s major cities keeps it from being eradicated. Government reported statistics for prostitution in Thailand are hard to come by, but estimates suggest anywhere from 250,000 to 2 million people are engaged in prostitution in the country.
Sex work and prostitution are so rampant that they make up over ⅓ of the human trafficking in Thailand, according to the Department of Social Development and Welfare.
Women and children get stuck in forced labor.
Forced labor is the other primary form of human trafficking in Thailand. Traffickers will target migrant workers who are looking for better wages or quality of life for their families, and then smuggle them into the country to work in textiles, construction, or the fishing industry.
These working situations are often highly underpaid or fully unpaid and take advantage of migrant workers who don’t have other employment options. The living conditions of these Thai workers are well below ethical standards and often don’t have electricity or running water.
Because Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of seafood, exploited workers are often put aboard fishing vessels with no contact to the outside world or stable wages. The demand for cheap labor has put thousands of migrant workers at risk in the fishing industry.
The Internet’s Effects on Human Trafficking
The rise of the internet has opened new ways for traffickers to target vulnerable individuals as well. Traffickers use social media to advertise work opportunities that falsely promise better wages and living conditions. They also can use fun and colorful websites targeted to kids to manipulate and blackmail children into performing sex acts.
Victims of human trafficking often do not recognize they are being exploited, especially when they are being extorted by promises of a better life.
Children, Women, and Refugees at Risk
The individuals most vulnerable to trafficking in Thailand are often women, children, and ethnic minorities. Thailand sits between Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, and at-risk individuals are often trafficked out of those neighboring countries and into Thailand.
Victims of trafficking are often migrant workers who are lured into Thailand by the false promise of better wages, living conditions, and opportunities for their families. A number of trafficking victims are also forcefully taken from their homes and taken to Thailand where they have no hope of gaining enough economic security to return home.
Over 75% of the foreign victims in Thailand are minors. These children are groomed, exploited, and taken from their homes and families to work in forced labor or prostituion. In more severe cases, children are sold by their parents into trafficking.
Thailand is an origin country for trafficking abroad, and many victims are trafficked out of Thailand and sent to countries in East Asia, Europe, Southern Africa, and the Middle East. These deported victims are often put to work in degrading and exploitative work, like sweatshops or massage parlors that hide prostitution rings.
The Thai Government's Response
The Thai government has made large strides towards eradicating human trafficking in their country, but the demand for cheap labor and the economic power of sex tourism means that the government often turns a blind eye to trafficking crimes or does not have enough authority to fully stop it from happening.
The USA classifies Thailand as a Tier 2 Watch List country, which means they don’t fully comply with standards for human trafficking eradication. While they don’t meet base standards, they are making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking and Thailand. But because of corrupt law enforcement and the lack of legal protection for immigrants, the Thai government faces major obstacles to ending human trafficking.
Nonprofits Leading Prevention and Rescue
Trafficking prevention is a huge need in Thailand. Independent NGOs and organizations like Joy to the World Thailand or The Exodus Road are actively working to end trafficking in Thailand. These organizations have programs to rescue people out of trafficking, and programs to prevent at-risk individuals from being trafficked in the first place.
These organizations provide support and classes to people in poor and rural communities that educate people on the unknown and hidden threats of trafficking. They also provide stable income opportunities to those living in poverty to prevent traffickers from taking advantage of desperate workers. These preventative programs support Thai citizens and provide them with career and higher education opportunities.
The United Nations has identified preventative measures like education and poverty reduction as one of key factors to decreasing human trafficking. When vulnerable individuals are aware of trafficking tactics and are removed from at-risk situations, the likelihood of trafficking drops substantially.
Written in partnership with Reach The Lost.