Human trafficking victims mostly from Thailand’s neighbours

Sex industry in Thailand was largely run by small and informal cross-border networks, a Norwegian NGO in Laos said at a recent symposium on human trafficking.
     According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), up to 1.2 million children worldwide become victims each year. The extent of the problem has recently brought together key players in anti-trafficking efforts in Southeast Asia to discuss the situation and possible solutions at the International Symposium on Trafficking of Children, organized by UNICEF and the Japanese government on February 20 – 21 in Tokyo.
     Bodil Tumir, an adviser to Norwegian Church Aid in Laos, said the sex industry in Thailand was largely run by small and informal cross-border networks, into which a lot of Lao women and girls were lured.
     And in the age of computer-driven culture, trafficking had become more high-tech, with child pornography, sex tourism information, and mail-order brides offered openly on the internet, he added.
     Thailand was very involved, being the country of origin, transit and destination, the forum said.
     Ben Svasti from Trafcord, a Thai NGO trying to combat trafficking in the northern provinces, said most trafficking victims in Thailand were foreign nationals, including Laotians, Burmese, Chinese and Cambodians. The main trafficking routes were through Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, Mae Sot district in Tak, and Mae Hong Son province, he said.
     It is estimated that trafficking in children and women for commercial sexual purposes in Asia and the Pacific alone victimized more than 30 million people in the past 30 years.
     Fighting this problem required cooperation at national, regional and international levels.

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