The Conference of Major Women Religious Superiors of Thailand has formed a Church network to contribute more effectively in the fight against human trafficking. “There are many organizations within the Church and especially among various women Religious congregations in Thailand working on this issue, but we rarely coordinate with each other,” said Sacred Heart Sister Kanlaya Trisopa, coordinator of the new network.
“We need an avenue and forum to share experiences and skills in responding to this issue, and to collaborate in a concrete way with each other as well as with other stakeholders such as the government and both local and international NGOs,” she told a September 17-19 meeting of women Religious in Pattaya.
Around 40 nuns, Church workers and NGO workers discussed various forms of trafficking in Thailand as well as intervention and advocacy skills.
Apinya Tajit, a Church worker based in Si Racha who deals with the welfare of seafarers, said eastern Thailand has a very serious trafficking problem.
Thai employers have been exploiting Cambodians in commercial fishing boats, where living conditions are appalling. Those who are sick are killed and their bodies thrown into the sea, Apinya charged, noting government reports say an average of 10 bodies are found each month. Moreover, some employers give drugs to workers to make them more energetic, getting them hooked at the same time, she said.
Usa Lerdsrisuntad, director of “Foundation for Women” recalled rescuing a 16 year-old Thai girl trafficked to Singapore to work as a prostitute. The girl was promised a job in a shop but when she arrived, she was put in a tent near a construction site, where every night she had to service many workers.
“We have to rescue those already trafficked, but the network we are setting up can also be very helpful in educating high-risk groups,” said Usa.
Sacred Heart Sister Saowanee Namnuan from Chiang Mai said the new network is an important step in tackling trafficking.
“This meeting made me aware of the various Church organizations working in the area. We need to collaborate to respond to this problem.”
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