Thanks to advances in communication, transportation, and energy technologies, we live in a global village. Our connected world expands understanding and opportunity for many. Unfortunately, not everyone has benefitted. Poverty and desperation, migration and immigration laws, inequalities of gender, ethnicity, and income, political instability, environmental degradation, shifting markets, and war all create risk. The same transportation, distribution, information, and financial networks that connect us for good also enable traffickers to exploit those at-risk for pleasure, profit, and power.
Over 300 Burmese men were rescued by the Indonesian government after reports surfaced that they were forced to work and held in cages on the remote island of Benjina. When over forty US military men requested only two women for sex while on leave in Pattaya, Thailand, one woman ended up in the hospital. A 15-year-old girl in Florida had sex with multiple members of the football team in the high school’s bathroom. The one thing all these people have in common is that they’re survivors of human trafficking.
Human trafficking, slavery, and forced labor are all defined separately under international law. This clarity is important for the prosecution of traffickers and compensation for survivors. For most of us, however, it’s enough to know that slavery and other forms of extreme exploitation and dehumanization still exist in our world, challenging the dignity of us all.
Lack of education = lack of options = vulnerability
In a study of commercially sexually exploited children in the northern region of Chiang Rai, researcher Simon Baker writes, “The best data indicating the number of children at risk of being victims of child prostitution are education enrollment figures. Education is a surrogate measure for both child labour and child prostitution.”
According to human trafficking expert Louise Shelly, “Those who are trafficked are the least educated. In the triborder area in Thailand, 22 percent of surveyed prostitutes had never attended school and 41.5% had some exposure to primary education.”
In Northern Thailand
It’s no wonder that Northern Thailand still functions as a breeding ground for Thailand’s commercial sex industry.
Estimates suggest that over 60,000 children are sexually exploited for commercial gain in Thailand each year.
Cutting off the supply
Our scholarships, tutoring, math and foreign language classes provide at-risk students with the tools needed to compete. Our mentorship and support nurture resilience. Our human rights programs teach students throughout the region their sexual and legal rights. Our sustainability programs spur independence in vulnerable communities.