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Sex Trafficking in Thailand

Discuss about the Evaluating Sex Trafficking Prevention Programs.

Sex trafficking is a glaring issue in the world at present and it continues to concern the governments around the world. The worst thing about it is the involvement of young children who are supposed to have education and a proper life. Human trafficking is a menace that has to be fought with a commitment to end it rather than just reduce. It amounts to the violation of the basic human rights. According to the statistics of the International Labor organization (ILO), more than 20 million people fall victim to human trafficking globally. Of these 20 million, 54% are trafficked for sex trade[1]. Among those, around 2 million children are trafficked for sexual exploitation every year. Although majority of countries and the international forum has criminalized trafficking, it continues to grow and has become a 150 billion dollar industry[2]. The low-income nations, especially the Asian countries register most number of sex trafficking cases due to the lack of proper education and poor economy. Thailand is one of the world’s top hubs for trafficked victims to be sold and bought. Many organizations – government and NGOs – are devising new ways to tackle this menace and they have been able to achieve some sort of success. However, a lot needs to be done in this regard, as the business continues to flourish despite increased efforts.  In this paper, sex trafficking in Thailand is primly focused. The paper will evaluate the efforts of DEPDC in Thailand towards ending this menace.

News of sex trafficking from Thailand is a common occurrence as there are more than 425,000 people living in slavery according to the Global Slavery Index, 2016[3]. Children in particular are most vulnerable to sex trafficking in the country. As per the United States government’s report, the chief reason for this is the presence of large number of migrants in the country. Along with the Thai victims, around four million migrants working in the country are trafficked every year in industries like fishing and agriculture and in factories and for domestic work. In case of sex trafficking, Thailand faces the biggest problem. Victims that mostly include young boys and girls and even children are brought to the country from places like Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam for sex trade. The country also provides passage to victims transported from Burma, India, Vietnam, China, Korea and Bangladesh[4]. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with the support from national and international government, are battling this issue in Thailand.

DEPDC Overview

The Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Centre in Greater Mekong Sub region (DEPDC) is an NGO that has been engaged with the task of rescuing the tribal population of Thailand from sex trafficking. DEPDC gives special emphasis on ‘stateless’ children and women who are devoid of governmental rights and benefits.  Sampop Jantraka founded the organization in 1988 and since then it has been engaged in providing free vocational training, education and other opportunities to these children and women. The NGO’s primary focus is the Mekong Sub region that holds the major population of these stateless women and children.

People in the Mekong sub-region have been fighting for years to be awarded Thai citizenship but the government has not yet been able to do so. In this regard, the DEPDC is proving to be a savior for the people of this region who are always on the verge of being trafficked for sex and labor. The DEPDC initiates a number of projects like the Chiang Khong Safe Shelter, Mekong Youth Net, Half Day School and the Community Learning Center. The following sections shall discuss the two projects namely Mekong Youth Net and half Day School.

The Mekong Youth Net is a project that was initiated by the NGO between 2004 to 2010 within the Greater Mekong sub-region (GMS). Through this project the organization hoped to disseminate education and skills training to the youth humanitarian aspirants of Thailand, Laos PDR, Myanmar comprising Shan, Karen, Kachin and AKHA tribes, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Yunnan province of China[5]. The prime scope of this project was to allow the young people hailing from these regions to become well equipped in humanitarian skills so that they could help their respective communities. The project aimed to work at the grassroots level by empowering these youngsters in order to end sex trafficking in the GMS. Human trafficking is a grave issue within the sub-region mainly because of its population that does not have the official citizenship of Thailand.

The Half Day School project, opened in 1996 in the Patak village of GMS aimed at disseminating vocational training to the children coming from the village[6]. The project’s main scope was to assist with the repatriation of the sex trafficked children in a safe place. It also focused on helping with the social integration of the victims of sex trafficking when and where needed. the project was hoped to be successfully implemented through providing education to the children. in this way, the project not only aimed to help the trafficked children but also prevent others from being victimized.

The Mekong Youth Net Project

The MYN project members used quantitative data to identify the most vulnerable groups in order to implement the project. In doing so, the members developed a structured questionnaire and distributed to the young people at the GMS region. After gathering the questionnaires, the data was analyzed in order to understand the feasibility of the project[7]. This was done to make the project effective and accessible to the major population within the GMS region. Snowball sampling technique was used to gather data from the concerned population. Snowball sampling is a nonprobability technique of sampling in which the existing samples provide references to their acquaintances for future sampling[8]. In the MYN project, snowball-sampling technique was used because many sex trafficked survivors were not willing to come to the fore and aid in implementing the project.


Qualitative method was used to interpret the data collected and then implement the different elements of the project. As part of the project, the NGO members performed a non-participant observation method to investigate the situation in the region. In this type of method, the researcher observes the subjects without actively participating in the situation. The members of DEPDC observed the youth at the GMS region distantly and then analyzed the situation. After the analysis, the project team physically visited the specific areas and then implemented the project.

Similar methods were used to implement the Half Day School project as well. However, in this case, the focus was the children in the Patak village who had been victims of sex trafficking. In addition, the project also focused on the children who could be vulnerable to sex trafficking. As part of the quantitative analysis, the HDS team visited the Patak village and met with some parents whose children were victims of the trafficking. It was not possible to have access to each family and thus the snowball sampling technique was used. After distributing the open-ended questionnaires to the respective families, the data was collected and analyzed in order to implement the project. Further, as part of the project scope, the members analyze the places where the children are supposed to be repatriated. In addition, the members also had to analyze the adequate and apt time at which the social integration plan for the children was to be implemented.

After carrying out extensive research in the GMS region, the DEPDC team then focused on implementing the project. The members at first organized workshops for the young people of the region and made them aware about the program. Then, training sessions commenced where the youngsters were trained on various subjects and topics. The DEPDC members first imparted training on Mekong Region’s social problems, its politics and the changes amongst others. It was followed by training on cultural studies that included language, culture, ethnicity and the different hill tribes residing in the region. Young students were also given awareness on the social problems that confront the region like HIV/AIDS, addiction, poverty and education. International issues that involved training on trafficking as well were also taught to the youngsters. The implementation was done after proper scrutiny of the locality. In order to make the project reach out to people globally, the team duly utilized the social media platform. A YouTube channel with the name MYN YouTube channel was also launched.

The Half Day School Project

The responsibility of the implementation of the Half Day School project was given to three other projects including the HDS project that worked along the same line. These were the Community Learning Center (CLC) Project and the Child Helpline Project (CHL). These projects operate from Mae Sai along with the HDS project. With the help from the two mentioned projects, HDS members are able to implement the project on a large scale and within time. Children who need immediate help are identified and taken to the CLC where their overall betterment is looked after. The CHL works each hour to trace and track those children who have been rescued from trafficking and then bringing them within the organization. Under the orders from the DEPDC, CLC provides computer training, literacy training and human rights training to the children of the community[9]. The CHL, on the other hand, allows people from across the GMS region or the entire northern Thailand to call up and provide information regarding any sex trafficking survivor. The hotline number is shared amongst local communities and various nurses and doctors who are required to help the children. The number is even publicized to teachers and village leaders so that they too good contribute to this project.

After the implementation of the MYN project, it was exciting to see to what measure was the project successful. A look at the statistics provided by DEPDC regarding the impact of MYN explains the project’s success. The project was successful in achieving its prime objective that was to “train youth leaders” to fight against trafficking throughout the GMS region. By the end of 2009, 96 youth leaders had been trained across the region. These young leaders then laid the foundation to grassroots projects across GMS as the MYN project has aimed. In the following year, that is in 2010, the Mekong Youth Union (MYU) was formed that served as an umbrella organization for all the future country projects undertaken by MYN. To add to that, the Mekong Youth Union Training Center (MYUTC) was also formed at the DEPDC headquarters. The MYN YouTube Channel is also run by MYUTC. In 2011, the MYN project received an honorable commendation from UNESCO. The award is given to those individuals and organizations who achieve exemplary achievement within the field of educational innovation. However, it must also be mentioned that the project could have been even more successful had it developed itself over the years. Starting in 2004, there was very little change visible in the functioning of the project even a decade later. The members must realize that the times have changed since 2004 and as the world prepares to enter into the second decade of the 21st century, issues like sex trafficking are being tackled vehemently. All these have occurred due to the emergence of the social media. The power of this medium has been realized by the people especially those working in such organizations to help the deprived and the victimized.

Implementation Process

Half Day School project had three main elements that it needed to achieve that included non-formal education, life-skills training and vocational training. The reason that HDS is not an accredited school, it only provides non-formal training on Thai, English, mathematics, science and humanities. The project largely succeeded in providing temporary shelter or safe house to at risk students and helped them attain training on important subjects. The project also helped the vulnerable children learn important life values like the importance of staying hygienic, the value of education and so on. Further, the rescued children were provided the opportunity to involve in activities like rice harvesting that allowed them to forget their past horrors and start afresh[10].  However, the project failed to fulfill its goals completely that was enabling the children through education to live freely without having to worry about their situation. The reason for this failure could be attributed to the temporary nature of the project. After graduating from the HDS grade six, the children have little scope in having education further. This one big problem makes the project a satisfactorily successful project.

Conclusion

To conclude, it has to be stated that Thailand being the epicenter of sex trafficking, is finding it difficult to progress and develop. The above-mentioned non-profit organization is only a single one that is working towards rescuing the nation from being drained into sex trafficking. The report presented accounts and workings of the DEPDC organization. It could be seen that DEPDC focuses on the tribal community of Thailand who do not have the country’s citizenship. The assignment presented an overview of the two projects undertaken by the DEPDC that was followed by the project scope. The implementation process followed by the organization in ensuring the success of the two projects was also mentioned. Further, the essay provided the methodology of the projects. In addition, it also discussed the extent of the two projects’ success and failure. The report also presented a brief analysis of the overall situation of sex trafficking in the world and the scenario in Thailand. It was found that the two projects had great flexibility and feasibility but lacked permanence. The sorry condition of Thailand with regards to sex trafficking has also been presented through certain statistics. In addition, the report has given an insight into the working of organization and the extent to which it has been successful. It however needs to be mentioned that further reading and research into the topic has to be done in order to track the latest trends in sex trafficking in Thailand.

It is recommended that the MYN Project be reshaped and modified as per the changing needs of the generation. Further, it is also suggested that DEPDC must look to integrate the project with other international initiatives so that more funds and support can be garnered. It is also recommended that the success of the project be tracked and maintained through continuous evaluation.

In case of the HDS Project, it is recommended that the concerned people find a solution to the temporal nature of their non-formal training. Although they are doing an excellent job providing education to the affected children at the GMS region, it has to be assuring enough to the children. In addition, the teachers involved in the project must also be trained in the local culture and language so that they are able to get along easily with the children.

References:

"Mekong Youth Net". 2018. DEPDC / GMS. https://depdcblog.wordpress.com/projects/mekong-youth-net/

Bernstein, Elizabeth, and Elena Shih. "The erotics of authenticity: Sex trafficking and “Reality Tourism” in Thailand." Social Politics 21, no. 3 (2014): 430-460.

Carnochan, Sarah, Mark Samples, Michael Myers, and Michael J. Austin. "Performance measurement challenges in nonprofit human service organizations." Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 43, no. 6 (2014): 1014-1032.

Depdcblog.wordpress.com. 2018. "Half Day School". DEPDC / GMS. https://depdcblog.wordpress.com/projects/half-day-school/

Depdcblog.wordpress.com. 2018. "Rice Harvesting With The Patak Half Day School". DEPDC / GMS. https://depdcblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/rice-harvesting-with-the-patak-half-day-school/.

Emerson, Robert Wall. "Convenience sampling, random sampling, and snowball sampling: How does sampling affect the validity of research?." Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (Online) 109, no. 2 (2015): 164.

Global Report On Trafficking In Persons, Unodc.Org. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/global-report-on-trafficking-in-persons.html (accessed April. 7, 2018)

Our Strategy, DEPDC / GMS. https://depdcblog.wordpress.com/about-us/strategy/ (accessed April. 7, 2018)

Statistics On Forced Labour, Modern Slavery And Human Trafficking (Forced Labour, Modern Slavery And Human Trafficking),  Ilo.Org. https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/policy-areas/statistics/lang--en/index.htm (accessed April. 7, 2018)

Thailand - Global Slavery Index 2016, Global Slavery Index. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/thailand/ (accessed April. 7, 2018)

Thailand, U.S. Department Of State. https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2017/271297.htm (accessed April. 7, 2018)

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