Krissanee has apparently told the police she has already brokered about 10 deals
that turned pre-pubescent compatriots into sex slaves in various places across
Ryu Chakuma, head of STA Namida no Wakachiai Asia, an NGO devoted to combating
human rights abuses in the region, says there's nothing new about the
conditions leading to the arrests.
"Thai girls have been sold into prostitution in Japan for more than 20 years.
It took too long to make these arrests," he tells Asahi Geino.
Chakuma says the majority of the Thai girls who end up as slaves in Japan come
from the country's poorer northern regions, as, indeed, the girl involved in
the recent arrests had done.
"Parts of northern Thailand, Myanmar and Laos form what is called the Golden
Triangle. It used to be one of the biggest drug-producing areas on earth. The
area is largely inhabited by mountain tribes, which are said to be the
suppliers of young girls sold into prostitution in a town called Mae Sai," he
Chakuma says impoverished families travel all the way from Myanmar to Mae Sai
to sell off their daughters.
"Some mountainous tribes in Myanmar are still fairly primitive. Brokers target
these families and buy their daughters. You can buy a little girl of about 10
for around 20,000 Baht, or 56,000 yen," he tells Asahi Geino. "Brokers build
houses for the girls' parents, then pay for the girls with wads of cash. The
girls are then kept locked away in sheds. At one restaurant I visited, they had
girls of about 12 or 13 looking after some customers at a karaoke bar. Some of
these girls were selling their bodies, too."
A Japanese journalist in Thailand concurs with Chakuma.
"Thai authorities have been cracking down on drugs. Farmers have stopped
producing drugs and turned back to crops. This hasn't worked too well in some
mountainous areas, though, and cities like Chiang Mai have developed slums
filled with those from mountain tribes. Lots of these people are selling their
daughters because they need the money," the hack tells Asahi Geino. "These
traffickers target girls from light-skinned tribes because they know they're
the types that the Japanese will like."
Chakuma tells the weekly it's not uncommon for prominent members of Thai
communities to be involved in human trafficking deals.
"In one place I saw, a Thai Buddhist priest was acting as the agent. He'd look
for cute little girls in the area and convince her parents to sell her. The
Thai police won't go after Buddhist priests," he says. "There are also cases
where village chiefs or mayors have brokered deals."
Thai women working as hostesses in Japan are frequently the conduits for sales
of Thai girls sold into sexual slavery in this country, according to the men's
"Japanese brokers used to go to Thailand and select little girls to buy for
themselves, but it's become harder for Japanese to go there recently," the
Thai-based journalist says. "Nearly all the groundwork is being done by Thais,
from buying the girls and sending them to Japan."
A dating club operator in Tokyo's red light district of Kabukicho says Thai
slaves are uncommon in Japan's big cities.
"In Kabukicho, most of the slaves are Korean or Chinese women," he tells Asahi
Geino. "Cops are really strict when it comes to dealing with Thais. Those who
had been in Tokyo have since moved on to surrounding prefectures like Ibaraki,
Gunma or Tochigi. All the trafficking in Thai girls is now going on in the
Copyright 1999-2005, Mainchi Daily. All rights reserved. Ryann
Connell is a Staff Writer and Senoir Desk Editor for the Mainchi Daily News. No
content may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission.
Please contact us via the link below for re-print and syndication policies.