Strengthening Human Trafficking Laws in Thailand


Human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation  is a very common issue in Thailand, and is considered the hub between the other eastern Asian countries. Women and children are forced into prostitution where they endure physical and sexual abuse and men are forced into hard labor in poor working conditions. Due to the relaxed border control and the growing racism regarding illegal aliens, victims of human trafficking are being treated as criminals instead of being given support and guidance to escape their situation.human_trafficking

In 2010, the Thai Government established the Second 6 year National Policy to combat human trafficking that intends to strengthen inter-agency coordination among key stakeholders in the regional, national, and international level and improve human trafficking prosecutions. Despite its implementation, Thailand has not made significant strides in eliminating human trafficking due to several reasons, the largest being insufficient resources to enforce legislation. Furthermore, there are high levels of corruption in the government agencies. Human trafficking has large economic success in Thailand and the strong underground criminal presence has greater resources and power to pay off the police officers and judiciary officials.

Greater pressure needs to be placed on the Thai government to empower them and give monetary strength to their existing legislation. Right now, the costs of enforcing their legislation appear higher than letting the crimes exist and they need to be helped into a position where this is reversed. The United Nations need to focus resources on this central hub of human trafficking and exert more of their influence and power to influence the Thai government to remove corruption from their agencies. The media and human rights organizations need to keep bringing awareness and advocating for the voiceless. Finally, the sex tourism industry needs to be shamed and made aware of what of the abuse they perpetuate.



6 Responses to “Strengthening Human Trafficking Laws in Thailand”

  1. psantacruzortega Says:

    Reblogged this on NTDs in Ecuador.

  2. kylejacobsherman Says:

    Sjzfjs, thank you for blogging about such a serious and systemic problem, not just in Thailand, but across the globe. I agree with the measures you lay out, that being, greater pressure on the Thai government to empower and give monetary strength to their existing legislation, the UN refocusing their resources and exerting more of their influence on this particular hub of trafficking, media and human rights organizations raising awareness and advocating for the voiceless, and shaming the sex tourism industry. Combined, these take a systems based approach to solving the problem and I think that is fantastic.

    However, I do think one vital piece is missing. All of the elements listed above are reactive, not active, toward addressing the rampant problem of human sex trafficking in Thailand (and everywhere else). Put differently, the measures aforementioned attack the symptoms of the problem, not the root cause of the problem itself. Thus, I think there also needs to be measures and studies in place to address why those who are perpetuating this industry enter into it in the first place. Is it because there are no other viable jobs or economic opportunities for them to make an honest living and the only way to do so is force women/children/men into forced prostitution/abuse/labor? Are they themselves somewhat forced into this as their only career choice? In other words, I think some analysis needs to go into the patterns of this industry, to understand why and how human sex trafficking in Thailand is why it is and how it gets sustained. I’d be willing to bet that lots of the people leading this industry would choose different career paths if given the opportunity. All this to say, if we can untie the gordian knot that is human sex trafficking, by taking both preventative and remedial, then we can truly begin to make broad behavioral changes for the better.

  3. sjluber Says:

    It is unfortunate that a largely targeted demographic for trafficking in Thailand is with undocumented Burmese workers. Like you mentioned, while programs have been established in attempts to protect this specific population, they have made only small strides. I agree that one of the largest barriers is the ability to enforce these laws, not only due to lack funds but also corruption of officials. While the removal of trafficking victims to countries outside of Thailand was attempted, it lead to further financial hardship for these persons. There is no clear or easy solution to this problem but I agree that further attention by media and large established activist organizations must be made to both strategize for solutions and re-enforce the necessity for change within Thailand.

  4. yaluan Says:

    This is a very interesting topic and certainly one that is hard to combat given the economic and political factors in Thailand. Poverty seems to be the main issue and influential factor in human trafficking. I agree that stronger measures or policies and cooperation of the government should be implemented for prevention and alleviation of this problem.
    As you mentioned in the blog that most of the illegal workers were from Burma, I believe that to properly address this human trafficking problem, national preventive measures and regional cooperation must be strengthened. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been coordinating cooperation in the region to collect data for development of regional policies on human trafficking. However, many of the human trafficking cases slip by under the radar, which has made the data collection difficult, incomplete and often reliable.
    Due to the political disrupt in Thailand and the rise in poverty, this would be a difficult issue for Thailand to face alone. Instead of just enforcing or strengthening policies in Thailand, one of the things that the Thai government could work on is more cooperation with the neighboring country Burma on establishment of law enforcement protocols and agencies to prevent and combat these this issue.

  5. jennifertrumbore Says:

    Thanks for highlighting this issue. As an American, I think this is something that we truly do not comprehend the magnitude. I researched it a bit when I went to Thailand in 2012, so I appreciate your information. It was definitely hard to think about the undercurrent of sex trafficking and sex tourism when I was traveling. I feel like every time I saw a young Asian woman with an older Caucasian man, I wondered about the nature of their relationship. What specifically do you recommend I can do to help put pressure on the Thai government and the UN?

  6. yaluan Says:

    Correction in previous post:
    “data collection difficult, incomplete and NOT reliable.”
    Jennifer, I have wondered about the same thing as well, and not just asian woman, but young Thai boys with Caucasian man. The Thai government is trying to strengthen policies, but due to the corruption in the government, there is a lot of bribery across the border, so I definitely do think that it should be viewed as a regional issue rather than tackling it only at the national level.

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