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Message-ID: <199711240923.EAA08450@access4.digex.net>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 04:23:16 -0500
Reply-To: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
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From: Alex G Bardsley <bardsley@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>
Subject: Fwd: TH: Imported sex workers (BKKPost)
To: Multiple recipients of list SEASIA-L <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>

X-URL: http://www.bangkokpost.net/today/2411_news16.html

More foreign workers join sex industry
as fewer Thai girls enter flesh trade

By Poona Antaseeda, Bangkok Post, 24 November 1997

War and poverty are bringing more and more girls from abroad into the Thai sex industry.

Girls from Burma and China, aged 12-18, are more in demand since Thai girls from the North have been persuaded not to join the flesh trade.

But as the number of Thai girls involved in prostitution declines the number of Burmese and Chinese has risen sharply, says Wanchai Boonphacra, of the Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights.

The centre's public education and campaign team chief, says: Most alien girls, especially from Burma and China, come to Thailand knowing they will work in brothels, massage parlours or cafes.

However, he says it is difficult to know how many girls are involved although in every brothel raided by the centre over the past two years children had been found.

He says: Last month, the centre repatriated 10 Chinese girls. All of them knew beforehand that they would have to be prostitutes. They said most of the girls in their villages had come to do similar jobs in Thailand and were sending money home to build houses or buy electric appliances.

Most Chinese girls come from provinces in Yunan state. They travel via Chiang Tung in Burma and then sneak into Thailand at Mae Sai in Chiang Rai.

The Burmese girls come from Chiang Tung, Ta Khi Lek, opposite Mae Sai, and Yong and come from minority groups such as the Tai Yai and Mon.

Sanphasit Koompraphant, director of the centre, said many low-class entertainment places used foreign child prostitutes.

Prof Kusol Sunthorntada, a researcher with Mahidol University's Institute for Population and Social Research, says: The shortage of northern Thai girls, who used to account for most child prostitutes, has forced dirty business operators to import girls from neighbouring countries.

Their pleasant character, white skin and beauty were similar to northern girls.

She says alien children working in Thailand fall into four categories: labourers, prostitutes, the homeless, and those of no established identity. Among these, the child prostitutes are the most abused, she says.

Not only are they badly treated by the brothel owners but by their customers. Operators often make them work without a day off, steal their wages and warn them not to leave their work places telling them they will be arrested as illegal immigrants. Some are beaten for refusing to work and customers may become violent if the girls refuse to perform various sex acts.

Prof Kusol and her teammate conducted research into children involved in five areas: fisheries, construction, industrial and factory work, the service sector, and agriculture, in 14 border provinces and the Bangkok area.

Her research showed that sex work was the highest paid with children earning about 6,281 baht a month. Much of it was spent on clothes and cosmetics.

Children were found to enter Thailand for economic reasons, due to the desire for material goods and because of the negligence and corruption of Thai officials.

Chinese girls wanted to flee poverty and Burmese girls poverty and war. They often also wanted to broaden their horizons and get a taste of modern life.

A cabinet resolution last June, which eased the restrictions on alien workers, has also encouraged more children to come to Thailand, says the professor.

Montri Sintawichai, general secretary of the Child Protection Foundation, is also warning that the country's Amazing Thailand tourist campaign for 1998-1999 will bring more children into the sex trade.

Mr Montri said the Visit Thailand Year in 1987 had led to many more children being brought into popular tourist spots.