[Stop-traffic] News/Asia: Report: Abused Thai women 'trafficked' to Japan need help

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Asia: Report: Abused Thai women 'trafficked' to Japan need help
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Sep 24 2000 - 12:16:01 EDT


Report: Abused Thai women 'trafficked' to Japan need help
By Eiko Fukuda
Kyodo News Service, September 20, 2000

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Japan and Thailand need to enact laws and provide
social services to help a large number of Thai women taken to Japan every
year to work in the sex-industry jobs entailing ''slavery-like abuses,''
according to a report to be released Thursday by a New York-based human
rights group.

Human Rights Watch made the plea in a 227-page study, ''Owed Justice: Thai
Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan.''

The report said many of the Thai women interviewed for the study cited
instances of beatings, constant surveillance and coercive threats,
including those of being ''resold,'' that put them in a category of forced
labor.

The study said thousands of Thai women are taken to Japan every year to
work in the sex industry.

Kinsey Dinan, one of the report's authors, said an estimated 20,000 Thai
women are staying illegally in Japan, most of whom have fallen into debt
bondage upon arrival in the country.

The study noted that while most of the women decided to migrate for work,
in doing so, they fell prey to deceptive contracting agents who charged
them exorbitant fees for transport, apartment rental and other services,
including simple amenities such as the right to use the telephone.

The result, according to the study, is that these women became bound by
their debts which typically range between $25,000-$40,000 and which could
take them years to pay off, given the exploitative way in which they are paid.

Most of the women are employed in Japan's booming ''sex entertainment
industry'' worth 4 trillion to 10 trillion yen a year, the study said.

The Thai women, part of a pool of an estimated 150,000 foreign sex workers
in Japan, are expected to perform sexual services for clients picked up at
''dating'' bars, bathhouses and low-end brothels, often run by the yakuza
-- members of Japan's crime syndicates, the report said.

The women, according to the study, are paid a mere fraction of what the
clients pay, the rest being picked up by their managers.

The report recommends that Japan ''actively investigate, prosecute and
punish perpetrators of trafficking in persons'' and to take measures to
protect the victims -- who are likely to be targeted by police as illegal
aliens -- by amending existing laws on immigration and labor standards.

Japanese authorities should ''guarantee victims of trafficking and/or
servitude access to redress for abuses suffered'' by making it easier for
them to obtain legal counsel and translation services, the report said.

The Japanese government, which has publicly expressed concern about the
situation, needs to ''do something for the victims instead of just talking
about it,'' said Regan Ralph, executive director of the Women's Rights
Division of Human Rights Watch.

''It is high time to stop the rhetoric, and start some serious law
enforcement,'' she said in a statement.

Thailand, for its part, should help the women to return home and gain legal
redress, as well as expand education and employment opportunities for the
women to make them less vulnerable to trafficking in the sex trade, the
report said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Human Rights Watch is on line at:

     http://www.hrw.org/
Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at
<<morhant@igc.org>>.

Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health
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Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
funded by the Women's Reproductive Health Initiative
of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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