Malina Enlund, A21 Asia Director, Bangkok
Malina Enlund, Asia director of A21, talks about the challenges posed by child sex trafficking in Thailand and working together with other NGOs, law enforcement agencies, and the Royal Thai Police.
So Thailand, being one of the richest countries in the region, attracts a lot of migrants, a lot of economic migrants who sometimes also bring their children. But it also attracts a lot of tourists and with the tourists we have sex tourists as well. And places like Pattaya and Bangkok have grown in terms tourism, but with that sex tourism has brought a lot of tourists looking for children as well.
I think we are talking about thousands of children and, you know, people often say teenagers, yes maybe teenagers are sold for sex up north, but in Pattaya we are talking about young children. We are talking about children 12 and under.
I’ve heard people say, why should we care, this is not our problem? Actually, it is. We created the problem. We as westerners, we as people, have the responsibility to assist because, one, if it’s not us then who? Two, these children are being abused by foreign perpetrators. These are not children somewhere far removed and hidden and it’s not our problem. These are children who have been abused by your families, by neighbors, so we collectively have to do something.
I will say that the police is willing, but I don’t think they are funded enough and I don’t think they are staffed enough.
Actually, we can’t always put all the pressure on Thai police. The victims are not Thai. The perpetrators are not Thai. We are dealing with foreign population here. We, as an NGO, as foreign police, we have responsibility to support that because this pressure on Thailand to do their job, they cannot handle the amount of victims. They cannot handle the amount of foreign perpetrators.
I think the U.S. government is the only government that I have seen that provides that amount of help to assist children on the ground. And you not only support looking for perpetrators who are American, you actually support child sex tourism victims because you actually get the guy. When you get the guy, you remove the guy, which means that the victims are safe. So you are changing the lives of these victims.
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