Catch-up and Background
I realize that I should have made entries sooner. I was gathering information and wanted it to be cohesive. So here we go:
I arrived in Bangkok after 26 hrs of flying with 2 stop and plane changes. Mickey Choothesa, the Founder of COSA was waiting for me. A very welcome experience, not having to navigate anything on my 1st few days particularly since my personal time clock was upside down and I don't speak the language.
Mickey and I stayed in Bangkok until Monday evening when we took the nigh train to Chaing Mai (more on that later). We talked non stop with Mickey filling in missing information on the subject of Sex Trafficking.
We agreed that it was relevant to visit the “Red Light District” in Bangkok as one way for me to gain some background knowledge and understand of the difference between what happens here vs. COSA’s work.
Sex Tourism in particular brings many Western visitors and their money into the country. The "Red Light" district in Bangkok offers sex related shows e.g. bikini clad dancing on the bar and sex shows using their genitals in unnatural ways. There are also “Sex workers” available. Most “Sex workers” are over 21 years of age. We ask ourselves why they are working here. Mickey explained to me that education is compulsory and free through the 8th grade for Thai citizens. Thereafter, a parent must pay for their child’s education. Many cannot afford to pay and so what is to become of these children? Their employment opportunities are limited. To help the family some of these young persons become "Voluntary Sex Workers".
By contrast COSA is working with a different type of Sex Trafficking. It is "Forced Trafficking." that they are addressing. The Minorities are generally farmers or migrant workers living in abject poverty. Like the "Voluntary Sex Workers" poverty is at the root. Unlike “Voluntary Sex Workers” these children are under aged victims with no choice and no voice. They are forced into trafficking. These children may be as young as 4 years of age.
COSA’s approach is to work towards prevention through creation of self sustenance of the Hill Tribe Communities whereby they can support themselves without having to sell their children. They also offer intervention for children that are at risk or have already been subject to physical and/or sexual abuse.
On the intervention side, Mickey a Thai national as well as an American citizen goes into the brothels and to the Chiefs of the Minority Hill Tribe Communities to identify children that are being trafficked or at risk. After negotiation and assessment several are selected and taken to a shelter, given a new start on life.
At the shelter the children receive total care: an organic diet, education, clean and safe living, love and a very safe environment to heal and grow up in.
More to Come