News/S. Africa: Thai women in South Africa sex trade doubles

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Subject: News/S. Africa: Thai women in South Africa sex trade doubles
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Jul 19 1999 - 10:59:19 EDT


Thai women in South Africa sex trade doubles
Nation (Thailand), July 15, 1999

      THE Thai Embassy in Pretoria is facing an uphill task in trying to
save Thai women from the flesh trade in South Africa, which has more than
doubled in the past year, Foreign Ministry spokesman Don Pramudwinai said
yesterday.

      Don said visa exemptions, direct flights and promises of better pay
have contributed to the increasing number.

      But regardless of whether the Thai women go there to work voluntarily
or are lured, the profession and rising number, now estimated at 3,500, is
seriously damaging the country's image, he said.

      Efforts by Thai Embassy officials to help innocent girls have posed a
security threat besides putting demands on much of their time and
resources. In some cases Thai Embassy officials have been intimidated for
interfering or helping, according to a report from Pretoria.

      Don said the South African authorities have stepped up measures
against illegal workers.

      He said those wanting to work in South Africa should, in order to
avoid being lured into the flesh trade, acquire some knowledge of English
and get a proper work permit and necessary visa stamp from the embassy in
Bangkok.

      Since 1997, the embassy has helped some 162 Thais who were arrested
and deported. Thai females who work illegally in the flesh trade also face
the risk of drug addiction.

      South African police have informed Thai officials that drugs are
being forced on the girls to keep them under control and from escaping.


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