News: Relaxed visa controls aids smuggling of sex workers

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Subject: News: Relaxed visa controls aids smuggling of sex workers
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Mar 18 1999 - 14:32:24 EST


Relaxed visa controls aids smuggling of sex workers
By Sirikul Bunnag
The Bangkok Post, March 18, 1999

Relaxation of visa controls as part of the Amazing Thailand campaign has
made it easier for foreign racketeers to lure women into the sex trade and
smuggle them abroad, according to a senior immigration officer.

Thailand was being targeted by foreign gangs, said Pol Maj-Gen Chartwut
Watcharapuk, deputy commissioner of the Immigration Bureau.

As part of the Amazing Thailand promotion, more tourists were being allowed
to apply for a visa on arrival at the airport.

This had opened the way for gangsters involved in the flesh trade to enter
the country in the guise of tourists and then engage in their illicit
activities, he told a meeting at Government House on Monday.

The meeting, to plan measures to tackle the problem of child and women
prostitution, was chaired by Korn Dabbaransi, the deputy prime minister and
public health minister.

Pol Maj-Gen Chartwut said racketeers were systematically trafficking women
to clients abroad, arranging fake passports and travel documents for them.
Most were girls from the North and neighbouring countries.

Thailand was also a gold mine for women from recession-hit countries, who
could earn quick money by offering sexual services to Thai men.

These women, mostly from mainland China and Burma, normally worked as
singers at restaurants in Bangkok and other cities, he said.

Last year, 192 foreign prostitutes were arrested at various restaurants, of
whom 162 were Chinese and the rest Burmese, according to a police report.

Paveena Hongsakul, the deputy labour minister, said the ministry would
urgently draw up measures to help prevent women falling victim to
prostitution gangs.

Vocational and skills training would be provided to women and girls who
were rescued from brothels, so they would not have to return to the flesh
trade, she added.

Melanie Orhant

Co-Director
Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network

P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
T: 387-0028
F: 387-2590
Email: morhant@igc.org
www.globalsurvival.net


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