Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand

by Family Connection Foundation
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Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Protect Children from Sex Trafficking in Thailand
Our training photos with the Thai prosecutors
Our training photos with the Thai prosecutors

6 Month Update:

 

Thailand recently had another large covid outbreak and the virus has spread all throughout the country. Many may believe that Covid only hurts the sick, but it also has caused a spike in our cases and exploitation among children. Schools have had to close down so children remain at home and on their phones. Children continue to use social media, but still unknowingly are contacted by predators posed as young teens. 

 

Since January 2021 our small team have assisted 11 victims who are children 1 adult from total of criminal 6 cases. The majority of cases are online trafficking however In one of the cases, our client was recruited for sex by a government official and his wife. After 2 years of living in that house, at the age of 13, she ran away and asked for help. Our team assisted to have her relocate to be under witness protection program. She has been there since February and will be in a safe place until her trial is complete. Our team also support the witness of the case with transportation and lodging because witness has to travel half a country to testify. We also manage to have this case being investigated by the Anti Trafficking Team from the National team and ensure this case stay away from the local influence. 

 

Our job has never been easy and during the time of Covid it has been harder for us to travel and to support the case. Many of our cases from last year, their trial has also been postponed, but our team is still committed to ensure that child victims of human trafficking are well protected. 

 

During the first quarter of this year. Our team was successfully able to get trafficking funds for a few of our clients. For example, we worked with the division of anti trafficking in persons under the Ministry of Social Development and human secutiry to request funds for a trafficking victim. We managed to get scholarship for our client to take a course at a prestigious language training school, this would allow him to improve his language skills and have a better opportunity of getting a high paying job in the future. and to get another monthly support for career training for two other clients 

 

Also for nine months HUG's director have been working with Trafficking Hub and Michael Bowe (the lawyer representing the women) from Brown Rudnick and a team of attorneys to support seven of our Thai clients (6 of them were trafficked victims).Today the lawsuit has finally been filed against MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub. Read more from the link in this report.

We are also excited to announce the HUG Project partnership with the Thailand Office of the Attorney General. The partnership will be five years long, and will focus on enhancing a child-friendly justice system among public prosecutors working with child victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and other forms of violence against children. As the journey begins, we have been learning from Dr. Wanida Paoin (Director of Child Abuse Center, Thammasat University Hospital) and also from our FBI partner on the topic of the US FBI Model. 

 

Thank you again for all of your support. Your support help us to continue to serve Thai Children. Thank you! Kop Khun Kha (Thank you in Thai language). 

Our social worker P'Win assisting young victim.
Our social worker P'Win assisting young victim.

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In the first quarter, we have already rescued 7 girls, as young as 7 years old up to 18 years old. All 7 girls were rescued from sex trafficking across Thailand. One girl was rescued in the south of Thailand and 2 offenders will be arrested for this case. The second case was a 7 year old girl who was trafficked by her mother. The mother and another offender will be facing charges. The 7 year old survivor is now being supported by a government shelter. The third case was the rescue of 2 victims who are 15 and 17 years old. Both girls were rescued from a "spa" in Northern Thailand, which was a cover up for exploiting children for sex. 1 offender was arrested in this case and will be facing charges. The last case involved 3 girls who were sexually exploited online. 2 offenders were arrested and another offender will be arrested soon. Because of these various cases, our director was invited to speak on Chanel 5 news. On national television, she urged all Thai people to report authorities since young children do not have all the tools to ask for help. We are committed to making sure that all survivors will be reintegrated back into society and have support from various professionals. HUG will continue to work along side the victims and support teams such as law enforcement officials and prosecutors. While protection is crucial, we have also focused on preventing the abuse through educating children at schools. Our most recent workshop was at the deaf school in Chiang Mai, in hopes to spread awareness of the dangers of human trafficking and abuse. These preventative methods can change a child’s life. We are also grateful for the support from Twitter Thailand and other partners since we have been able to work along side them to spread the message about the dangers of online sexual exploitation. Thank you so much for your support. With your donations, we have been able to continue our work to support survivors all across Thailand. Covid has been an invisible barrier for everyone, but we have been able to work harder and overcome many challenges with your support. Thank you everyone for your donation and we look forward to updating you during the next quarter. 

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Internet Safety Training
Internet Safety Training

The far reaching effects of COVID go beyond the disease itself. This pandemic's secondary effects have seen many job losses in Thailand as a result of a complete government shutdown for 11 weeks in the spring time period.  With increased job losses and decreased job security, many have tried to sell themselves as an opportunity for money.  Furthermore, the lockdown periods created increased depression and instances of child abuse while at home often from those closest to them.

In addition the NCMEC (the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), reported a surge of online child abuse complaints surpassing 4 million in April 2020 alone.  This number continues to increase every year and has exploded in 2020, with the lockdown in many countries pushing many offenders to exchange "physical pleasure" for "online pleasure" of potentially exploited children.

Between just four months of June through September 2020, the HUG Project team assisted 40 victims from 33 different cases of sexual abuse and exploitation. These included 19 cases of blackmail/threats which remains our biggest call for support.  Often, these are young kids who - because of their innocence - are lured into sharing private pictures or video online.  Thereafter, the kids are exploited to share increasingly more sexual content or face their images being uploaded to sex websites all over the internet.  Once uploaded, content is almost impossible to remove as images and videos are shared amongst countless users. During this period HUG additionally helped with 11 cases of rape, 9 cases of domestic violence and 1 case of human trafficking.

With a small staff of 5 Thais, 1 volunteer Thai and one foreign volunteer, The HUG Project continues to make a HUGE impact with a limited budget.  Since 2014, when HUG was created more than 300 kids have been supported to help with protection, prevention and restoration.  This includes helping victims walk through the prosecution process to hold offenders accountable for their actions.  Won't you continue to help us as we meet these increasingly evil trends?

Supporting a victim
Supporting a victim
School children at the office to learn about HUG
School children at the office to learn about HUG
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Preparing for an Arrest Operation
Preparing for an Arrest Operation

We have never "flattened the curve" of online child sexual abuse imagery.  The problem continues to grow exponentially, and has, in fact, been exacerbated by global quarantines.  With perpetrators, children, and end-users all at home online, there are simply more opportunities for abusers to groom minors.  NCMEC (the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), which serves as a global clearinghouse for child sexual abuse imagery, reported a surge of online child abuse complaints surpassing 4 million in April 2020 alone.

While the HUG Project team assisted 36 young victims of sexual abuse and exploitation in the year 2019,  HUG staff have already provided support for 108 children in 23 cases so far in 2020.  In one case alone, 3 traffickers and 7 end users were arrested.  Together with our partners in the TICAC (Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children) task force, HUG is working not only to bring perpetrators to justice, but also to facilitate restoration and healing for victims and their families.  For example, even with social distancing, HUG staff have been providing virtual counseling.  "Victims are seeking more mental health support during the spread of COVID-19.  They are starting to open up and share their struggles without fear of being judged," explains one HUG counselor.  "We hope they will continue to process deeply into the root of their problems, and to work on the core of their issues."  

Offering Virtual Counseling Online
Offering Virtual Counseling Online
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Photo Credit:  TICAC
Photo Credit: TICAC

Over time, we have (collectively, as a global society) put unlimited access to unlimited content at the fingertips of children.  Furthermore, we have encouraged young people to digitally record every aspect of their lives.  Subsequently, we have created financial incentives to post and share such recordings.  What could possibly go wrong?

In one of our team's last cases of 2019 (one of 54 cases that HUG was able to assist with last year), an underage girl was filmed by her underage boyfriend performing sexual acts.  After the couple broke up, the ex-boyfriend sold the footage to subscription-based groups through various applications such as Line (popular in Thailand), VK (popular in Russia), and Twitter.

In a subscription-based business model, customers pay a recurring price (such as a monthly fee) for access to material (in this case, child pornography).  In Thailand, once such material has been exchanged for monetary value (the boyfriend receiving payment for photos/video), it is potentially a human-trafficking case. 

This case is heartbreaking on many levels.  First, the victim will feel the trauma of having these images circulating around the world for the rest of her life.  Second, the accused offender is also under 18.  Finally, this pattern of youth-produced material being sold online is exploding worldwide.  Ironically, the material itself seems to be fueling more demand.  

Sometimes it feels like our team is swimming against a tidal wave.  However, we are making progress!  In this case, for example, we were able to partner with TICAC (Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children) to help put together the case, and to assist the victim.  We are grateful for your generosity- which enables HUG to conduct trafficking prevention, aid investigations, and provide survivor support.  Together, we can turn the tide! 

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Organization Information

Family Connection Foundation

Location: Muang, Chiang Mai - Thailand
Website:
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Project Leader:
Boom Mosby
Chiang Mai, Thailand
$23,759 raised of $50,000 goal
 
154 donations
$26,241 to go
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