There are many reasons why human trafficking is prevalent in Thailand but we believe that ultimately trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation is a spiritual issue. We live in a world full of sin. Love for Jesus is rare in Thailand and in many nations of the earth, while lust for money, power and influence abounds.
“We have all the evidence that education and money does not get rid of evil. It’s not a money and educational issue. It’s a moral (issue); it’s a spiritual issue,” - Don Brewster, founder and director of Agape International Missions.
Yet we know that when Jesus returns and establishes His Kingdom here “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4 NIV). We are crying out for Him to come back to earth, and to give us glimpses of the justice in His heart while we wait.
What is Human Trafficking?
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of ‘labor or services’, such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. Sex trafficking includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children
(CSEC). Sex trafficking occurs within
numerous venues in the broader sex industry, commonly found in street
prostitution, online escort services, residential brothels, and brothels
disguised as massage businesses. Under U.S. and international law,
commercially sexually exploited children found in the sex trade are
considered to be victims of trafficking, even if no force or coercion is
present" (The Polaris Project). We believe that additional victims of human trafficking also include child soldiers, children used in pornography and on-line sexual encounters, babies and children trafficked for unethical adoptions and individuals that are forced to sell their organs.
Trafficking in persons is extremely lucrative because unlike drugs or weapons a person can be rented or sold repeatedly. The profits of human trafficking are estimated to be $32 billion annually (UN Office on Drugs & Crime 19 July 2012). In the documentary “Nefarious” Ohad, a man who trafficked girls for 11 years and now works to help at-risk youth, states that when traffickers look at their victims they just think of how much money she can make them. “Nobody cares about these girls. They (are) turned into an object. Just like you go into a market and buy a pair of underwear, you go into a different kind of market and you buy yourself a woman. It’s hard for the first time or the second time, but you just get to a point where you just say, ‘It’s good money.’” (Nefarious)
“I would pray day and night to God that He would help me escape.” - Anca, trafficking survivor
Human Trafficking in Thailand
Thailand is considered “a source, destination and transit country” for human trafficking. “Lack of documentation continues to expose migrants to potential exploitation; in the northern areas of Thailand, lack of citizenship makes highland women and girls particularly vulnerable to being trafficked. Some children from neighboring countries are forced by their parents or brokers to sell flowers, beg, or work in domestic service in urban areas. NGOs reported an increase in the number of children in commercial sexual exploitation, with false identification, in karaoke or massage parlors,” states the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report.
Beyond the root issue of sin, some of the factors we see contributing to the prominence of trafficking in Thailand include broken families, lack of citizenship and legal rights for hill tribe people, and cultural and religious mindsets such as the pressure upon children to provide for their parents and siblings.
“I think initially we had a very narrow concept of what constitutes human trafficking, but being in Thailand we began to see a broader injustice occurring in the sex industry. These girls hadn’t been abducted or physically forced into prostitution, yet their social conditions had virtually removed personal choice from the equation.” Benjamin Nolot - Exodus Cry