Facts about Human Trafficking in Thailand

Characterized by breathtaking beaches, delicious food and stunning temples, Thailand is often called the “Land of Smiles.” As the number one tourist destination in Southeast Asia, it is an extremely popular place for millions of people to visit every year. Unfortunately, with convenient routes that funnel women and children in and out of the country, Thailand has also become a popular destination for human traffickers. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Thailand.

10 Facts about Human Trafficking in Thailand

  1. Human trafficking by boat is common – First up in this list of facts about human trafficking in Thailand is the method of transportation. The fishing industry is a major asset to Thailand’s economy, so many ships go out to sea to fish. These boats sometimes do not come back for up to three years at a time. This makes it nearly impossible for authorities to monitor the activity of boats. Thus, many traffickers prefer to travel through the seas, despite the risks it may pose on the trafficked victims.
  2. Thailand’s geographical location makes it particularly vulnerable to traffickers – Land routes from neighboring countries into Thailand are not very well secured and corruption is prevalent. This makes it much easier for human traffickers to smuggle people into the country.
  3. Minorities and migrants are high-risk for being trafficked – Among those at the greatest risk for being trafficked in Thailand are foreign migrants, ethnic minorities and stateless persons. They may experience various abuses including the withholding of identity and work documents and debt bondage. They could even be subject to illegal salary deductions. Language barriers and low socioeconomic status further contribute to the vulnerability of these populations.
  4. There is no one “type” of trafficking offender – Profiles of traffickers vary considerably. They include both males and females, Thai and non-Thai nationals. They can be from organized networks with the ability to produce or buy fake documents and avoid immigration requirements. Additionally, traffickers can act individually, seizing opportunities to profit from coercing vulnerable persons into situations of exploitation.
  5. There are various forms of trafficking networks – Trafficking networks can be well-structured and work across borders through the use of brokers. However, most trafficking cases are facilitated by individual and local level networks of friends, family members and former victims that often begin with voluntary migration.
  6. Most victims of human trafficking in Thailand are, in fact, of Thai nationality – The majority of trafficking victims identified in Thailand are Thai nationals, trafficked both domestically and internationally. Migrants from neighboring countries make up a large portion of identified trafficked persons in Thailand. However, many more victims from neighboring countries are not identified. These victims often willingly migrate from their home countries in search of better opportunities. Some of their home countries include China, Vietnam, Russia, Uzbekistan and Fiji.
  7. Victims are often trafficked into Thailand through established migration routes – These victims come from neighboring states with significantly lower levels of socioeconomic development. Facilitated by long and porous borders, irregular migration is a common trend in meeting the labor demands of low-skilled employment sectors.
  8. Trafficking in Thailand is a $12 billion industry – This makes it a bigger cash earner than the country’s drug trade, according to the International Labor Organization.
  9. More than 900 victims of human trafficking have been rescued in 2019 – According to official statistics released by the Thai anti-trafficking department, since the beginning of 2019, the police have rescued 974 victims of human trafficking. Most of the victims were from Myanmar.
  10. The hotel industry has taken initiative in combating this issue – A French multinational hotel group set up an employee training program to identify and address sex tourism in 2001. Additionally, Airbnb works with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. which provides education about human trafficking. Airbnb also works with No Traffick Ahead, a coalition for combating human trafficking.

Efforts to Eliminate Human Trafficking in Thailand

These facts about human trafficking in Thailand reflect the severity of this problem on a global level. The Thai government has pledged to continue fighting the human trafficking epidemic in their country. In the last year, it partnered with airlines and charities to warn visitors against involvement in trafficking. Subsequently, they urged them to spot and report potential cases.

UNICEF has been particularly active in calling attention to child exploitation and in addressing its root causes. This organization provides economic support to families so that their children will not be at risk of sexual exploitation; it improves access to education and is a strong advocate for children’s rights.

Progress in reducing the human trafficking trade has been made in recent years. However, to make a widespread impact, the efforts of these nongovernmental organizations need to be aided by urgent government action. This action is essential to protect Thai citizens and migrant workers.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in ThailandThe education system, and especially girls’ education in Thailand, has continued to improve over the past few decades. Like many poverty-stricken countries, however, Thailand still struggles to provide education for all and tackle the gender equality gap among young boys and girls in school.

  1. Thailand is among the few countries in the world that have never been colonized by European powers, therefore their education system developed mainly on its own. The country focused its efforts on education reform. However, the process was a difficult one. Thailand has had no less than 20 different education ministers in the past 17 years. After the military coup in 2014, the country’s government attempted to regain the education reforms that were interrupted and increased funding for education.
  2. Thailand’s education system gives children and families many opportunities to choose how they want to receive their education. The first nine years of a child’s education are compulsory, with six years of elementary and three years of lower-secondary school. Students can be enrolled when they first turn six and admission is generally open to all children. The government also provides free three years of both pre-school and upper-secondary education that can be completed after students finished their studies, both of which are optional. In 2013, 75 percent of eligible youth were enrolled in upper-secondary school programs. Secondary education starts at the age of 12.
  3. Girls’ access to education is virtually equal to boys’, as the Thai government provides all children with a twelve-year education. In 2006, the ministry of education found that primary school net attendance for boys was 85.1 percent and 85.7 for girls. Currently, enrollment rates are mostly equal for both genders.
  4. Though girls education in Thailand is accessible, girls still face discrimination and other hardships at school. Educational opportunities in Thailand are more of an issue of class and affordability than gender and culture, though both are factors. Some such hardships are the cost of supplies and uniforms. A report by the poverty line found that in higher education, the student’s family could not afford the school fees, uniform expenses, textbooks, meals and especially transportation costs to the school.
  5. The Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, D.C., found that girls face discrimination in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields from as early as primary school. A 2015 report published by the UNESCO found that the discrimination in these cases stemmed from gender stereotypes and a lack of female role models in STEM.

UNESCO is now working with Thai educators to improve STEM education and motivate young girls to pursue their dreams in the science fields. This initiative is a part of a 20-year strategy that aims to transform the country to increase innovation, creativity, research, development and green and high-technologies driving the economy.

– Madeline Oden
Photo: Creative Commons

Top Ten Facts About Living Condition in Thailand
In the last few years, Thailand is becoming a really popular tourist and backpacking destination, not only for its breathtaking nature and for its rich culture, but also for its particular and interesting culinary. But not everything that most people see as travelers truly represents real life in the country. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Thailand, that will try to give a clearer picture of this Southeast Asian nation, are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Thailand

  1. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Thailand went through a monumental economic growth that led the country to a position in which it could improve the living conditions of a lot of its citizens. GDP per capita has increased from $863 in 1975 to $1,335 in 1985.
  2. Although some people could get huge benefits from Thailand’s economic growth, the wealth was not equally distributed, leaving the lower 30 percent of the population in rough conditions to fight for their survival.
  3. In the past, there used to be some policies that encouraged Thailanders to take their personal credit with programs like first car loans, for example. But after resulting in high household debt, the government decided to shut down the program.
  4. The country is suffering from a lack of labor force due to its quickly aging population. As a response to this, Thailand’s government is promoting women’s participation in the workforce by giving support to child care services.
  5. Thailand is considered to be a safe country to live in with a moderate crime rate of 47.7 percent. However, in the past three years, the country has increased its crime rate by 62.7 percent. Of all the cities of the country, Phuket is considered to be its most dangerous one to live in.
  6. Due to is high demand for entertainment and for being the economic, cultural, historical and commercial hub of the country, Thailand’s capital Bangkok is the most expensive city to live in and is among the world’s 100 most expensive cities.
  7. During the majority of the year, the weather is extremely hot in Thailand. April is the hottest month when the temperature can reach more than 30 degrees Celsius. From May to October, the country is in the monsoon season, presented with the particularly hot weather, but along with it with heavy rains. This can be thought for the ones not prepared for these living conditions.
  8. Thailand is considered to be highly polluted country. The belief is that this issue emerged after the country migrated from an agricultural economy to an industrialized one, resulting in rough polluted air that directly affects the population’s health.
  9. In the country’s education system, it is optional for the children to go to pre-school education. However, the percentage of parents that opt to enroll their infants in a daycare center or kindergartens is high. Nine years of public education are mandatory for all children in the country.
  10. The traffic in Thailand is considered a bit chaotic, as the average time index is 39.38 minutes. A car is the most used form of transportation, further compounding to the issue of air pollution in the country.

As for every country, the top 10 living conditions in Thailand show that there are various pros and cons of living in the country. There are things that cannot be easily repaired, such as the unequal distribution of wealth. But improving other things, such as air pollution and the safety of the country can be done by realizing that everyone is responsible and that only by a joint effort of all citizens, Thailand can move forward.

– Rafaela Neno

Photo: Flickr

How Technology is Reducing Poverty in Thailand
Thailand, Southeast Asian Nation, is a country that has benefited from programs that use technology to help people living in poverty. There are several examples as to how technology is reducing poverty in Thailand, and some of them are going to be presented in this article.

Internet Centres

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) of Thailand have established more than 20 rural internet centers nationwide. NBTC-ITU Volunteers programme built this network, and each of the over 20 centers is equipped with at least 10 computers connected to the internet. The centers, located in 16 provinces across the country, strengthen information and communication technology (ICT) skills among students and are helping to promote social and economic development in some of the most remote areas of the country.

At the centers, students, youth and members of the local community are trained in how to use computers and are given courses for basic digital literacy needed to access information online. The center is useful because it gives students the ability to do online research in order to widen their knowledge of various subjects taught in school. They have also been able to transfer the computer and internet knowledge they have gained back to their families and communities, allowing them to use e-commerce platforms to do business and thus expand their family incomes.

Internet Advantages

While global connectivity is rapidly expanding and empowering billions of individuals around the world, ITU data shows that more than half of the global population remain cut off from the vast resources available on the internet. Access to information and communication technologies can help facilitate the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in rural areas. Access to the internet allows citizens to access basic services such as education and health care and is helping to lift people out of poverty through e-commerce and job growth. Nowhere else is this more pertinent than in rural and remote areas. In 2016, Thailand had more than 29 million internet users or 42.7 percent of the total population, which puts the country in the 24th place in the worldwide ranking of internet users.

Thai People Map and Analytics Platform

In 2018, the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESSB), the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC), the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and the Ministry of Science and Technologies joined up to help alleviate poverty in Thailand. The NECTEC center developed the Thai People Map and Analytics Platform (TPMAP) to pinpoint the problems people are facing in Thailand in different areas. Policymakers can use TPMAP to decide on which poverty programmes are suitable for each poverty-stricken area specifically. The data system TPMAP collects can help improve the quality of people’s life by increasing income, boosting employment opportunities and reducing living costs.

Suttipong Thajchayapong, a senior researcher at NECTEC, said that to understand poverty in Thailand, the three questions of who are the poor, what are their basic needs and how can their poverty be alleviated need to be answered. TPMAP can precisely answer these questions by integrating data from different government agencies. It can also compare individual indicators year to year to see if poverty is reducing. TPMAP uses five poverty benchmarks to determine levels of poverty. These benchmarks include education, healthcare, income, living standards and access to public services. The total number of people surveyed this year was 36,647,817 people and out of this number, 1,032,987 were targeted as poor people, according to TPMAP.

Establishing internet connections as well as various platforms such as TMPAP are examples of how technology is reducing poverty in Thailand. If Thailand continues to implement programs utilizing technology, people living in poverty will have more access to basic services. The country has implemented multiple programs that have addressed the issue of reducing poverty in Thailand. Utilizing technology is crucial for helping people living in poverty to access basic services.

Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Mobile Banking in ThailandAs internet access becomes more relevant, new markets and business sectors such as information technology, finance, banking, and telecommunications are developing. This can expand opportunities for rural areas that were once outside the scope of urban centers to take advantage of mobile banking and empower formerly marginalized communities. With the help of the internet, everyone can join the development world with minimum requirements. For this reason, mobile banking in Thailand is currently more prevalent than ever.

Often in developing countries, banks and telecommunication infrastructure are scarce, while mobile phones are found in spades. This interesting dichotomy has led to the proliferation of mobile money and banking, which allows money to be transferred, deposited, and converted back into cash using only a mobile phone to do it.

Mobile Banking in Thailand on the Rise

According to the World Bank, as of 2016, Thailand’s rural population was 48.46%. With recent developments in mobile banking in Thailand, roughly 50% of the population will have increased opportunities to pay bills, conduct money transfers, and make everyday purchases electronically.

The role credits and loans have in the growth of developing countries’ economies cannot be overstated. Increased loan access is essential for allowing farmers, businesses, and consumers as well to utilize investment capital and help expand economic activity. As mobile banking in Thailand proliferates throughout the financial sector, it offers increased access to loans.

This past year (2017), Thailand has seen incredible growth in the mobile banking sector. The Bank of Thailand recently published data that illustrates a surge in the use of mobile internet banking in Thailand. Consumers’ increasing preference for digital transactions highlights the success of banks’ pivot toward more digital strategies.

The Benefits of Mobile Banking in Thailand

As Thailand continues to cement the transition to mobile banking, rises in employment, wages, GDP and productivity are expected. Consumers can expect to receive THB 3.3 billion in annual benefits, while businesses will see up to THB 72.9 in annual net benefits. Employment will rise by 1.6% and wages by 0.2%. THB is an abbreviation for Thailand Baht. In comparison, 1 USD equals 32.82 THB.

As the government and private sector continue to facilitate the growth of mobile banking in Thailand, electronic payments between consumers and merchants will become increasingly prevalent. The transition towards a cashless society and the advantages that come with it are many, one of them being the cost of transactions.

A study conducted by VISA predicts that the total benefits of Bangkok shifting to a cashless society will be approximately THBg 125 billion per year.

An Upward Trajectory

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Framework 2020 involves several strategies and goals that include universal broadband and a competitive ICT industry. With regard to the national broadband policy, the ICT Framework hopes to have 90% of the population connected by 2020.

Hopefully, as Thailand completes the transition to a more connected society, other southeast Asian countries will take notice and invest in better technological and banking infrastructure. In turn, these subsequent developments could make the region a burgeoning financial hub.

Since mobile banking is dependent on a strong broadband network, the future of mobile banking in Thailand looks bright, as the government prioritizes increased broadband coverage across the country.

– McAfee Michael Sheehan
Photo: Google

Facts About Human Rights in Thailand
Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia with a population of approximately 68.8 million, is undergoing a human rights crisis. In May 2014, a military coup d`état occurred, signaling additional political instability and human rights violations within the nation. Here are top 10 facts about human rights in Thailand.

10 Facts About Human Rights in Thailand

  1. According to the Human Rights Watch, “The military junta under Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha has banned political activity and public assembly, enforced media censorship, arbitrarily arrested dissidents, and detained citizens in military facilities.”
  2. One of the most recent violations among the top 10 facts about human rights in Thailand involves the treatment of fishing industry workers. In March 2018, the Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Hidden Chains Human Rights Abuses and Forced Labor in Thailand’s Fishing Industry” to raise awareness and promote change at the governmental level. Many fishing industry workers initially join freely but are later held in forced labor and abusive working conditions. The Human Rights Watch urged Thailand’s government to implement legislation against forced labor and provided recommendations for more comprehensive inspections of fishing ships.
  3. As early as 2004, the laws of war were repeatedly violated by insurgents in Thailand. Also known as international humanitarian law, the laws of war prohibit attacks on civilians.
  4. In July 2018, the Human Rights Watch reported insurgents’ use of landmines. Victims included ethnic Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims along the southern border. In response to insurgent attacks, the Thai government also violated laws of war.
  5. In July 2016, 14 Burmese migrant workers filed a complaint regarding poor working conditions and forced labor at the Thammakaset chicken farm. Following their complaint, the workers faced defamation charges. However, the magistrates’ court acquitted the workers, finding that “the workers had filed their complaint in good faith in order to protect their rights, as guaranteed by the Thai constitution and international conventions.”
  6. As of 2017, approximately 105 people were charged and arrested for lese majeste, in other words, “insulting the monarchy.” Much of the dialogue occurs online, resulting in arrests, convictions and imprisonments. For example, in June 2017, a man was sentenced to prison for 35 years based on ten Facebook posts.
  7. The Thai government reinstated the death penalty after a brief nine halt. On June 18, 2018, a 26-year-old man was executed. According to Brad Adams, the Asia Director of the Human Rights Watch, “Thailand’s resumed use of the death penalty marks a major setback for human rights.”
  8. The Thai government denied claims of torturing Muslims detained in southern Thailand; however, TIME identified the Reconciliation Promotion Centre as the primary camp for the Thai government’s detention and interrogation.
  9. In 2006, an estimated several hundred villagers were forced to leave their lands following the announcement of the creation of a 19,100-acre sugar plantation in Cambodia. The sugar plantation was supported by Thai sugar giant Khon Kaen Sugar Ltd. (KSL) and this land grabbing signaled possible human rights violations. A complaint was issued and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) confirmed the human rights violation.
  10. Thai companies run coal mines in countries such as Myanmar. Natalie Bugalski, the Legal Director of Inclusive Development International, explained, “Coal mines are known to be among the highest-risk projects in terms of human rights, environmental and social impacts…the companies have completely failed in their duty to consult with local communities and carry out human rights due diligence.” THE NHRCT received a complaint regarding this violation.

Thai Progress in Human Rights

The Thai government agreed to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against torture. This agreement was recorded by the Universal Period Review. The agreement is a step in the right direction.

Although the top 10 facts about human rights in Thailand are of great concern, future improvements can be seen through Thailand’s acknowledgment of recommendations by the Universal Period Review. In addition, Thailand’s poverty headcount ratio has since declined from 42.3 percent in 2000 to 10.5 percent in 2014, a fact geared towards a more optimistic future.

– Christine Leung

Photo: Flickr

child poverty in ThailandOver the last several years, Thailand has made impressive progress in reducing poverty. It has gone down from 67 percent in 1986 to only 7.2 percent in 2015. While there has been considerable progress made, poverty is still a major problem in Thailand, especially among children. The following are 10 important facts about child poverty in Thailand.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Thailand

  1. It is estimated that about one million children in Thailand are living in vulnerable conditions. Child poverty in Thailand is a serious issue. These vulnerable individuals include children that live in poverty, have lost their parents, have a disability or have been forced to live on the streets.
  2. Child labor has long been a problem. It is estimated that more than eight percent of children between ages five and 14 are involved in the workforce. Impoverished children have no option but to enter into factory work, fishery work, construction or agriculture. Young children are also often forced into the commercial sex industry. Riley Winter, a student who recently traveled to Thailand, told The Borgen Project she witnessed children were giving tourists foot massages for just a small amount of money.
  3. Around 380,000 children have been left as orphans by the AIDS epidemic. This greatly affects child poverty in Thailand; many of these children are forced to live on the streets or enter the workforce because they have no one to care for them. It is also estimated that 200 to 300 children will be born HIV-positive each year.
  4. Poor children in Thailand do not have full access to medical care. Out of the 20,000 children are affected by HIV/AIDS, only 1,000 of them have access to medical care.
  5. Children are being exploited. Thailand has become wealthier and, consequently, trafficking networks have been expanding to poorer and isolated children in the country. Child poverty in Thailand has led these children to enter commercial sexual exploitation.
  6. Child poverty in Thailand makes it difficult for poorer children to remain in school. They do not have access to the necessary tools to succeed and remain in school so they are often forced to drop out. The wealthiest group has 81.6 percent of children of primary school age enter grade one while only 65.3 percent of the poorest group enter grade one.
  7. Arranged marriages are very prevalent in Thailand today. A man from a wealthy family is often chosen because the dowry system is still utilized in Thailand. The wealthy man will give the bride’s parents money in exchange for her hand in marriage. This happens in poor communities in Thailand very often, taking away the possibility for the impoverished girl to receive future education, among other things.
  8. Children are being forced to live on the streets due to things like violence, abuse and poverty. These children often beg or sell small goods for just a bit of money each day. They are at risk of poor health and lack of nutrition.
  9. Children are being left in rural communities. Thailand’s economy has been moving away from the agricultural sector and more money can be made in urban areas. Parents are forced to go to work in bigger cities like Bangkok, and children are often left in the care of someone else in rural villages.Parents send money back to their family but children often only get to see their parents one to two times a year. Although the parents are making more money, leaving their children comes with a risk. Children left in these rural communities are at risk of malnutrition and developmental and behavioral issues.
  10. Since the 1990s, child poverty in Thailand has been rapidly improving. The number of child deaths has decreased, literacy rates have dramatically increased, fewer children are malnourished and there are more children in school and less in the workforce.

There have been countless efforts made in Thailand to address child poverty but there is still a lot of work to be done. The nation has set long-term economic goals to be reached by 2036. These goals address economic stability, human capital and equal economic opportunities. These goals will be crucial going forward to help fight child poverty in Thailand.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

Girls' education in ThailandThailand, a country located in Southeast Asia, has made great strides toward educating its population. From 1985 to 2005, the country had exceptional growth in its real income per capita and it is no secret that socioeconomic factors play a role in gender equality.

Because of economic growth and modernization, Thailand has continued to work toward a more equal society from its traditional male dominated society. Although the great advances in girls’ education must not go unnoticed, it is also worth noting there are still challenges in girls’ education. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Thailand that everyone should know.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Thailand

  1. Thailand’s Ministry of Education grants all children a twelve-year education, and under the 1999 Education Act, “all children, without discrimination” have a right “to a quality education.”
  2. Thailand has been one of four countries in Asia to successfully promote the right to girls’ education.
  3. Between the years 2005 to 2010, the primary school completion rate for girls in school was 89 percent while the completion rate for boys was 97 percent.
  4. Analyst Liza Romanow mentioned in the Global Majority E-journal that “educational opportunities for women in Thailand are improving. While there are still fewer girls than boys attending primary school, the gender gap has decreased considerably from slightly more than eight percent in 1971 to slightly less than two percent in 2009.”
  5. Challenges that continue to hinder girls’ education in Thailand include discrimination amongst marginalized groups, poverty, language and transportation to school.
  6. A further challenge is that some material taught in public schools perpetuates a cycle of gender inequality in all aspects of society. An example presented by the World Bank is a study that randomly selected 538 textbooks in schools and found that women represented in the textbooks were limited to playing small roles in society like marital duties rather than men who were represented as having superior positions in society.
  7. In 1977, Thailand’s agricultural sector improved, opening an increasing number of jobs for men. At the same time, cities began gaining more wealth. Because of the country’s economic growth and increasing amount of job opportunities in urban areas, women were able to actually have more opportunity in higher education than men and many were able to enter different industries in the city.
  8. Although women have more opportunities than men in higher education, there is still a disparity in earnings. While there has been significant progress since 1985 (when the average male was making 34 percent more than his female counterpart), in 2005, men still received nine percent more than women in the workplace.
  9. Thailand’s Ministry of Education has begun working with the U.N. to become the first country to adopt a U.N. policy toolkit to promote STEM education among Thai girls. Although 53 percent of science students in higher education are female, less than 24 percent of women study engineering, manufacturing and construction studies.
  10. In 1998, the Child-Friendly School (CFS) initiative was launched in order to promote education for all, and many of CFS’s activities are ongoing in Thailand today.

Every girl deserves the right to education. Thailand’s government has done tremendous work to promote girls’ education in the country but recognizes that it still has work to do. With combined efforts between the Thai government and international organizations, Thailand can continue to support and improve the well-being of girls’ education.

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Thailand
The popular Australian mini-series 
Bangkok Hilton, about the arrest of Australians for drug-running in Thailand, is one of a number of media portrayals that feeds into the many stereotypes of Thailand. The media misrepresents Thailand by covering the problems that the country faces instead of the progress the country has made or the fact that Thailand is ranked as one of the world’s best tourist destinations. Negative aspects that the media often sensationalize include sex trafficking, drugs and AIDS.

Fighting Sex Trafficking Through Tourism

Although sex trafficking continues to be a problem within Thailand, the media often covers only the bad and not what the country is doing to fight sex trafficking. Thai authorities and officials have committed themselves to cleaning up the country through advocacy and tourism. “The Thai government alone cannot solve the problem. We need the hotel groups, we need the tourists, we need everybody who can to join in,” said Malina Enlund, a member of the anti-trafficking group A21.

Because of Thailand’s huge tourism sector, making up 19.3 percent of the country’s total GDP, the country has used its tourism to combat sex trafficking. Not only has the country begun training hotel employees and airline staff about how to spot sex trafficking, but the government has even insisted that its airline, Thai Airways, show an in-flight video about sex trafficking to all incoming tourists.

Replacing Opium Poppy Farming With Cash Crop Production

For decades, Thailand has been known as the epicenter of drugs in Southeast Asia. Thailand is developing at a fast pace, the culture is changing and people want a better standard of life. Unfortunately, drug trafficking gives many the economic means to do so.

However, the media misrepresents Thailand as a drug-stricken country with no escape, rather than focusing on what the Thai government has done to address the issue. One effective program instituted under King Bhumibol worked to “replace opium poppy farming with cash crop production.” This program has helped more than 100,000 people transform their drug crop production into “sustainable agricultural activities.” Stanford postdoctoral fellow Darika Saingam stated that the program is [a] win-win because it stymies drug trade and provides economic opportunity while also being ecologically sound.”

The Media Misrepresents Thailand by Ignoring Its Efforts to Combat HIV/AIDS

The media misrepresents Thailand by only reporting when Thailand sees an increase of HIV/AIDS within its population, such as a 2016 report that stated there were an estimated 450,000 Thai people living with HIV. In 2017, the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand launched the National AIDS Strategy, a 13-year plan to end the epidemic, “ensuring an effective, cost-efficient and high-impact HIV response” by 2030. It is evident that the country has listened to the outcry of its people and the international community and is taking action.

Although Thailand faces many problems, an obsession with the negative aspects is how the media is able to misrepresent the country as a whole. Such news reports fail to represent the culture and people of Thailand. Furthermore, it is important to understand that Thailand is taking the appropriate steps to become a safe, flourishing, and integrated country in the world and should be further recognized for its significant development.

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

tourism in ThailandThailand is a unique country that attracts over 32 million tourists each year. Tourism made up 20.6 percent of Thailand’s GDP in 2016 and supported about 6.1 percent of jobs. Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, was the most visited city in 2017. It is clear the tourism in Thailand is impacting the country.

Thailand’s 2004 Tsunami Recovery

Tourism both aided and hindered Thailand in its post-tsunami state. With a high need for jobs and funds, many luxury hotels were able to reopen within months. Unfortunately, some groups such as migrant workers had a difficult time receiving aid, if they even received any at all.

The event was also a catalyst for the marginalization of those in a lower socioeconomic status as many were barred from returning to their homes in popular tourist areas such as the beach. It is estimated that upwards of 10,000 were either prevented from returning or an attempt was made to prevent them from returning.

The Marginalized in Thailand

The country’s social bias against migrant workers, immigrants and refugees is one of Thailand’s biggest criticisms. People in these marginalized groups are at a legal disadvantage compared to Thai citizens. Migrant workers are at the will of their employer, needing a “termination and employer transfer form” (in other words, permission from their current employer) in order to switch jobs. Research by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2010 found 33 to 50 percent of employers in the fishing, domestic and manufacturing sector used this law to their advantage to prevent losing migrant workers as employees.

There are also multiple reports of migrant workers being punished by law in what seem like uncertain situations. One example is the fourteen migrant workers who filed a complaint against their employer for exploitation, thus damaging the company’s reputation. This resulted in the employer filing a lawsuit against the workers with potential consequences being imprisonment and fines. 

Another unfortunate example occurred in 2015 when two migrant workers from Myanmar were sentenced to death for the murder of two tourists; the case was marred by police misconduct such as the mishandling of evidence and the alleged torture of the workers. While it is difficult to find an exact number of migrant workers convicted of a crime in Thailand, it is becoming increasingly clear to the world that this is a human rights issue that needs to be addressed.

Sex Tourism in Thailand

Prostitution was outlawed in the 1960s, but Thailand still has a growing trade revolving around paid sex. There is no way to get a real number on those traveling for sex tourism in Thailand, but NGOs estimated 70 percent of male travelers were visiting specifically for the sex industry in 2013. Prostitution does not have a social stigma in Thailand like in other countries and many Thais have accepted it as part of the culture, creating growth in the industry despite questionable legalities.

Medical Tourism in Thailand

Many tourists travel to Thailand because of the low-cost medical treatment. In 2006, about 200,000 tourists traveled to Thailand explicitly for medical treatment. By 2011, that number rose to half a million.

According to insurance company Thai Expat Club, Thailand was third in the world as the most likely destination for health tourism in 2016. Many medical tourists are saving at least half of what they would pay in the US. Add on recovery by the beach or in a resort and it is no wonder Thailand has become the medical hub of Asia.

Tourism’s Impact on the Environment

With tourism in Thailand increasing, trash increases as well. Unfortunately, Thailand’s infrastructure has been unable to keep up. A common assessment has been waste left over from beach parties. It is estimated that Ko Phangan Full Moon beach parties leave about 12 tons of debris per day behind which mostly goes into landfills or the ocean.

Many groups are currently trying to highlight this issue which will hopefully create a springboard for biodegradable materials and other environmentally conscious decisions. Some of the organizations partnering with Thailand to address the waste issues are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which collaborates with Thailand to protect environmental laws, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which works on conservation within the country.

Tourism in Thailand is drawing in great opportunities such as growing jobs, a developing medical field and cultural awareness. However, there are some points of contention with prostitution, the waste problem and an increasing awareness of the marginalized in Thai society. Curbing environmental problems and working toward a more equal society will create a stronger Thailand and, ultimately, a stronger world.

– Natasha Komen
Photo: Flickr