15,000 Thai children, women trafficked for Japan sex trade each year: police study
About 10,000-15,000 Thai children and women are illegally trafficked to Japan each year to serve its sex industry, according to a study conducted by a senior police officer.
Led by Pol Lt Col Dr Pongnakorn Nakhonsantiphap, the research found that Thailand remains a major crossroads for regional and international human trafficking.
Worry over human trafficking in the Kingdom has grown after Pol Maj-General Paween Pongsirin, the former lead investigator of a 2015 trafficking case, said he would have caught more “big fish” had he not been forced to flee to Australia. The 2015 case stemmed from the discovery of a mass grave of Rohingya migrants in Songkhla and led to prison sentences for an Army general and other senior officials for conspiring with traffickers.
Meanwhile Thailand was last year downgraded in the US human trafficking report to the Tier 2 Watchlist.
"In the case of illegal trafficking of women and children for prostitution, Japan has been the largest market for trafficked Thais in the last 10 years, with about 10,000 to 15,000 sent annually," the research said.
It also reported that about 30,000 unskilled Thai labourers are trafficked abroad each year, mostly to Taiwan.
The police study covered two aspects of Thai trafficking: domestic and international.
The main targets for domestic trafficking were women and children from poor backgrounds in school or college. Traffickers will lure them with legitimate factory jobs but deceive them into working in prostitution operations.
Meanwhile international trafficking targeted the same group but involved either bringing people into the country or sending them abroad.
The research also found that human trafficking networks were very complicated but well managed.
The networks can be broken down to six roles.
Agents are responsible for contacting, inviting and transporting victims to dealers.
Dealers are responsible for housing victims, as well as forging any documents they may need.
Navigators are responsible for transporting victims to the destination.
Receivers are responsible for receiving victims before sending them into prostitution, illegal fishing or other sectors.
Supervisors are responsible for forcing victims to work and threatening any who resist.
Customers in different business sectors provide the demand for trafficked workers.
The research also identified problems with policy, management and cooperation of agencies involved in Thailand’s anti-trafficking campaign.