News/THAILAND: PROSTITUTION - ANTI-FLESH TRADE DRIVE LAUNCHED.

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Subject: News/THAILAND: PROSTITUTION - ANTI-FLESH TRADE DRIVE LAUNCHED.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Jun 09 2000 - 11:57:55 EDT


4-9-00 THAILAND: PROSTITUTION - ANTI-FLESH TRADE DRIVE LAUNCHED.
Teenagers' rescue starts war on vice
Onnucha Hutasingh
The recent repatriation of four Lao girls rescued from two brothels in
Satun marked the start of a combined Thai-Lao anti-child and woman
prostitution drive.
The girls, all 16, who thought they were going to work as waitresses, were
rescued in August 1999 and taken to the women's welfare centre at Ban Kred
Trakan for counselling and job training.
Public Welfare Department officials said the girls were the first to be
rescued and sent back home under the Anti-Trafficking in Women and Children
in the Mekong Sub-region Project.
Thailand joined the pact last year, along with Laos, Cambodia, Burma,
Vietnam and China.
Irawat Chantaraprasert, director-general of the Public Welfare Department,
said the repatriation was successful for Thailand as it had improved the
image of the country, which had been viewed as the regional centre of
prostitution.
Under the project, all rescued women and children found to have been lured
into the vice trade are sent to public welfare agencies for rehabilitation
and counselling, before being officially repatriated.
To prevent them from being lured into prostitution again, the victims must
be provided with job training and subsidies to start new occupations.
Four interrogation centres are being built here to allow all rescued
victims give their testimony to authorities without having to wait for
court hearings.
The Public Welfare Department hopes to send each victim back home within
six months of their rescue.
It has been estimated by some non-governmental organisations that around
10,000 women and children fall victim to human trafficking gangs and end up
becoming prostitutes every year.
Public Welfare Department officials admitted that only 60 foreign women and
youngsters lured into the flesh trade here, have been rescued and sent back
home over the past year.
Another major obstacle is the lack of co-operation from some countries.
Rangoon does not grant Burmese citizenship to any ethnic minorities.
A similar problem exists with Vietnamese victims, as Hanoi refuses to
welcome any Vietnamese born in either Laos or Cambodia. One of the four Lao
girls identified only as Som said she feared neighbours would insult her on
her return home.
Prasart Pasiri of the Centre for the Protection of Children Rights said
that since 1996, the centre has trained Lao officials on how to
rehabilitate, counsel and repatriate victims.
"There is a tendency that the problem will intensify in the future because
more rural children have become jobless and want to work in big cities," he
said.
BANGKOK POST 09/04/2000


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