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The Problem

a global epidemic that cannot be ignored

Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of crime in the world and involves the transport or trade of people for a variety of work. Sex trafficking also known as sex slavery involves exploitation for the specific purose of sex work. Unlike drugs, vulnerable boys, girls, men and women are a reusable commodity. However, unlike a pill or powder, these human beings have souls, families, and emotions. Sex trafficking is modern day slavery.

800,000
There are between 600,000 and 800,000 children, women and men trafficked across international borders each year.

U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, 2010

80%
Eighty percent of trafficking victims are women.

U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, 2010

50%
Fifty percent of trafficking victims are under the age of 18.

U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, 2010

4.5 million
Approximately 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.

ILO Global estimate of forced labour executive summary, 2012

2 million
Nearly 2 million children are estimated to be in the commercial sex trade.

UNICEF, 2009

$31 billion
Traffickers have profited and estimated $31 billion from their crimes in the commerical sex trade.

U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, 2009

Sex Trafficking Defined

the instance in which a commercial sex act (such as prostitution, stripping, or pornography) is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person or persons induced to perform such an act have not yet attained the age of 18. A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within this definition.

U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, 2010

At Not Abandoned we are far more concerned with helping the vulnerable and exploited person who is standing in front of us, regardless of whether he or she fits the explicit legal definition of trafficking or not. That being said, the populations we offer services to are considered trafficking victims or at high-risk to this type of this victimization. The far majority of trafficked persons around the globe are not kidnapped but end up trapped in the sex industry because of complex systems of fraud and coercion. A common example of this is when a recruiter for a brothel comes into a poor, rural community and offers the family’s daughter a “good job” in another bigger city that will allow her to send money home and help give her loved ones a better life. The recruiter is either extremely vague about the situation or out-right lies about the job’s description. Once the daughter is in the sex industry she is often quickly traumatized. Quite often it is then barriers of cultural shame, family responsibility, lack of options or understanding and treats that keep her from trying to escape. It’s not often physical chains around her foot or the door that keep her from freedom.

communities for trafficking
communities for trafficking

Trafficking victims come from and travel to every corner of the globe. No community is exempt. There is no “typical” profile for a pimp, trafficker or victim. However, some common elements in how vulnerable peoples are forced, tricked and recruited into sexual slavery are consistent throughout the different cultures of our globe. Research has shown that similar strategies for manipulation and exploitation, specifically in regards to people living in poverty, are present even between the most ethnically diverse communities.

With this in mind it is no wonder that organized criminal networks have taken hold on the business of trafficking and accelerated it to a global level worthy of comparison to any other mass crime. These entities have established veins of business that are being supported through our preexisting tourism structures. The same planes, trains, hotels and resorts that the common person uses for a family vacation are the same avenues used by traffickers to move their victims and customers to common locations.

Tragedy at Every Level of Society

In Your Backyard

Even a few decades ago the world was a much bigger place. Today with communities in ever corner being equipped with the internet, smart phones, more easily accessible commerce, social media and expedited travel technologies, the affect of globalization has brought the sex slavery to our figurative and literal doorsteps. It is no longer a problem of only the “poor foreign countries” but our collective world’s problem.

The business traveler in Bangkok will be treated to a night out in a brothel by colleges trying to close the deal. Ordinarily he would have never engaged in prostitution back home but there’s something about being among new peers in a foreign environment, with what appears to be technically legal activity, that gets him to lower his inhabitations. After all, the locals tell him that the girls enjoy their work, are paid well, and are just trying to get through college. He eagerly believe their assumptions after the third cocktail and tells himself that he works hard, deserves a little fun and since he’s so far from home no one will ever find out anyway.

The façade in this thinking it that this new experience will stay within the borders of Bangkok. The reality is that this one evening is merely a gateway drug that has now forever affected this man’s worldview of sex as a commodity. This new way of thinking is naturally brought back to his home community, silently in his mind or bragged about to buddies at the office. Either way, he is now much more likely to purchase sex at home than he was before. Research published by the British Medical Journal in 2014 found that among the 11% of men in Britain aged 16 to 74 who have paid for sex; the majority (63%) reported buying sex outside of the UK first.

Furthermore, event-driven trafficking is on the rise. Major sporting championships such as the American Super Bowl, the World Cup and the Olympics are widely known for subsequently increasing the demand on local sex industries. The result is that traffickers bring in droves of extra exploited women from all over the world to be sold for commercial sex work specifically to meet the short-term rise in buyers. Forced prostitution is no longer just a back room problem for that one bar on the bad side of town. Sex trafficking is a global problem that demands a global strategy.

Every Sector Of Society

Symptoms of the disease of trafficking can be found prevalent in every sector of society. Like any business, the aspects of supply, distribution, demand and a cultural climate that supports them are all necessary for an entity to turn a profit off the goods or services they are selling. The horrific business of trafficking people is no different. The principals of supply and demand appear regularly in anti-trafficking discussions, but the elements of distribution and cultural climate are almost always overlooked.

A business wouldn’t import cement blocks from the other side of the globe because the distribution channel doesn’t make sense. An entrepreneur wouldn't open a whisky tasting bar in a Mormon predominate community because there isn’t the proper cultural climate to support the business. In the same manor, a trafficker’s business is only successful because there are available distribution systems for the commercialization of sex such the tourism industry, corrupt governments and technology. A trafficker’s success is equally reliant upon a plethora of cultural climates willing to support this type of exploitation. Some of these supportive cultural elements include poverty, gender inequality, civil service corruption, disjointed family units, childhood sexual abuse and plain old greed.

Not Abandoned is motivated to attack the exploitation of trafficking holistically by addressing the needs and opportunities for impact in each of these four areas of supply, distribution, demand and cultural environment.

Societal Structure of Trafficking
Trafficking Hot Spots

Though the devastating effects of trafficking can be found in any region, it is especially prevalent in Southeast Asia.  Thailand specifically is the top trafficking hub for Southeast Asia, primarily because of the poverty-ridden bordering countries of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia where children and young women are at risk, as well as their own destructive cultural dichotomies and impoverished regions. According to the Trafficking In Persons Report (TIP Report), Thailand is a source, transit and destination country for trafficking (U.S. Department of State, 2015).

To the general public, Thailand’s country capital, Bangkok, is most well know as the top prostitution destination. However, what true sex tourists and pedophiles know is that there is a beach town about an hour and a half south called Pattaya that hosts far more sexual options in a far more of a raw manor. On one street in Pattaya, Thailand you can find up to 4,000 girls who work in the sex trade as bonded prostitutes. Before the Vietnam War this city was a sleepy fishing village, today, it’s a thriving metropolis that was literally built on the foundation of the illegal sex industry. After the war, and thanks to new market largely created by American military, Pattaya was forever changed into a top global destination for traffickers and commercial sex consumers. In fact, this city was catalytic in the globalization and parasitic growth of sex trafficking. What once was a few disassociated rural brothels caught the entrepreneurial attention of organized criminal networks and savvy business professionals who took this ancient oppression and turned it into what it is today, a worldwide cancer of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

As an organization, Not Abandoned has chosen to pioneer our programming in this slavery hotspot of Pattaya, Thailand. It is our founded belief that a sustainable change in Pattaya has the influential power to affect change in the entire region. With this community being so well networked in other international veins of trafficking it makes logical sense that a positive change here with be systemic. Now that we have been able to develop a successful community model for trafficking recovery it is our objective to continue to reproduce this model bases throughout the other sex trafficking hubs of the world. This reproduction will only be possible through partnership and appropriate cultural adaptations.

Meet Claire

Understanding trafficking at a societal level is complex but digestible. Understanding trafficking on the level on the victim is simply tragic. Girls, women, boys, men who are trafficked don’t have control of their futures. Often a decision has been made by direct family members to sell them off or the person has been coerced to enter the sex trade by strong family pressure, financial or otherwise. The freedom to make their own decisions has been taken away; and what to do in life, personal dreams and ambitions, where to study, and where to work are no longer choices they have. Hope appears unreachable once their enslavement begins.

We as an organization are often faced with the assumption from outsiders that if a person has not been kidnapped or is not being held behind a locked door than they are not really trafficked. This is a misinformed notion. The appearance of choice does not prove the existence of choice.

Consider this, there is a young girl, let’s call her Claire. Claire lives in a rural community and is secretly molested by a man who is respected by her family.

Where is her choice?

Eager to be free from this perpetual abuse, she marries young to someone her mother introduced to her. Barely knowing her new husband and because of her previous abuse, she is hesitant to have sex for the first time. Her husband is impatient and with frustration, rapes her.

Where is her choice?

In fear of social stigma and facing the world alone, Claire remains married and over the next few years has two children. Her husband loses his job and begins drinking heavily as he slips into a depression, blaming her for his pain. He eventually leaves Claire and their children.

Where is her choice?

Now a single mother of two, uneducated, un-resourced and abused, Claire turns back to her family for help. Claire’s mother agrees to watch the children while her daughter goes out in search of work. She is heartbroken to leave her children behind but.

Where is her choice?

Arriving in a new metropolis area Claire meets a recruiter for the sex industry that offers her high pay, flexible hours, community and a promise that she won’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Skeptical but desperate, Claire accepts.

Where is her choice?

Claire’s life-long trauma was the perfect seasoning for exploiters to prey upon. They encouraged her to accrue large amounts of debt with them, they pay her less than promised, they break down what little was left of her self esteem. They convince her that she is worthless, a failure. Because she’s not providing well financially for her children they tell her, “You are a bad mother and your children don't love you.” Soon enough Claire has been fully coerced and manipulated into prostitution.

Where is her choice?

Carrying the heaviest burden of shame this young women is convinced that she can never return home. Even though no one is holding a gun to her head she can’t stomach the idea of returning home. Returning home in her eyes would be admitting yet another failure. It would mean revealing to her children and mother what kind of establishment she’d been working in. She didn’t have any other marketable skills anyway. Who would hire a woman like her? Would love ever love a woman like her? Where is her hope? Where is her future?

Once again, we are forced to ask...

Where is her choice?

At Not Abandoned we are far less considered with labeling victims. We are far more concerned with helping them.

Why Pattaya, Thailand?

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