(2) Estimation of Numbers of Foreign Child Labour in Thailand
The members of child labourers both Thai minors and foreign children from the other 5 riparian countries of Mekong river are estimated in this section. However, estimates of foreign child labour in Thailand in terms of figures, sex and age structure, and sector of workforce,is not an easy task due to the fact that almost all of them entered into Thailand illegally. Relevant information and data of alien children therefore are very limited. Most available data can be obtained from government departments including: Immigration Detention Centre (IDC), Immigration Bureau, Protection of Children Welfare Division and Employment Department, MLSW. Other secondary source of data are from NGOs and a few other. To estimate the numbers of child migrant workers in Thailand, the intention is to cover the number of migrant children whether they were trafficked or not. However, whenever it is possible, the extent of children trafficking will be stressed. Sources of data employed for estimating the magnitude of migrant child workers are: research reports, official documents, raw data files from IDC and primary data collected for this study.
(a) Estimation of Number of Child Prostitutes in Thailand
It is estimated that the total number of foreign sex workers in Thailand in 1997 is 18,248 or TIC per cent of all sex workers. Of the total number of foreign sex workers in Thailand, 90 per cent (16,423) of them were from the Mekong basin countries: Myanmar, China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Of the 16,423 from the Mekong Subregion countries, 30 per cent (4,927) were estimated to be child prostitutes under the age of 18 and 75 per cent (12,317) of them began their sex services when they were under 18 years old (Archavanitkul forthcoming 1998). This estimate reflects the number of foreign sex workers at any one time in 1997. The figures are not at all cumulative numbers. The estimated numbers derived here are quite conservative as compared to previous estimation. If this estimate is used to trace the number of trafficked women from neighbouring countries beginning in 1990 (Archavanitkul 1994, CPCR 1996), it can be concluded that:

Between 1990 to 1997, there were80,000 approximately 80,000 children and women from Mekong Subregion countries and ethnic groups along the Thai-Myanmar border drawn into the sex industry in Thailand.

(b) The Number of Foreign Child Labourers in Thailand
The Number of Aliens in IDC. Bangkok: According to the IDC's computer files in Bangkok, the total number of aliens detained at IDC from March 1995 to August 1997 was 72,395 with 14,525 children under the age of 18 (Table 3.1). It should be cautioned that a considerable proportion of aliens were arrested and detained at the IDC in BangKok more than one time a year. Thus, the actual numbers of aliens annually detained in this centre were somewhat lower than the numbers recorded on the files. Of the 14,525 foreign children, 71 per cent or 10,303 were boys and 29 per cent or 4,222 were girls. If the countries of origin of the children are considered, the greatest proportion of 58 per cent were children from Myanmar, followed by 27 per cent from Cambodia, and 13 per cent from Laos. The rest were from other countries, including China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Most of the aliens were young adults, the average age being 23.75 years. The majority of children was in the group aged 15-18 with 8,782 or 60.5 per cent followed by the group of age between 10-14 years old with 3,991 or 27.5 per cent, and the group of age between 0-9 years old with 1,751 or 12 per cent.

 

Table 3.1: The Number of Aliens Detained at IDC
from March 1995 to August 1997
by Age Group and Country of Origin

Country of Origin

Age (years)
Total percent 0-9 percent 10-14 percent 15-18 percent
Myanmar 8,490 100.00 459 100.00 2,115 100.00 5,916 100.00
        Male 6,022 70.93 281 61.22 1,443 68.23 4,298 72.65
      Female 2,468 29.07 178 38.78 672 31.77 1,618 27.35
Cambodia 3,897 100.00 1,157 100.00 1,113 100.00 1,627 100.00
       Male 2,830 72.62 613 52.98 830 74.57 1,387 85.25
      Female 1,067 27.38 544 47.02 283 25.43 240 14.75
Lao PDR 1,896 100.00 36 100.00 731 100.00 1,129 100.00
       Male 1,262 66.56 18 50.00 441 60.33 802 71.12
      Female 634 33.44 18 50.00 290 39.67 326 28.88
China 51 100.00 18 100.00 9 100.00 24 100.00
       Male 33 64.70 16 88.89 4 44.45 13 54.17
      Female 18 35.30 2 11.11 5 55.55 11 45.83
Viet Nam 29 100.00 18 100.00 6 100.00 5 100.00
       Male 23 79.31 15 83.33 5 83.33 3 60.00
      Female 6 20.69 3 16.67 1 16.67 2 40.00
South Asia 75 100.00 19 100.00 9 100.00 47 100.00
       Male 70 93.33 17 89.47 8 88.89 45 95.74
      Female 5 6.67 2 10.52 1 11.11 2 4.26
KMT in Thailand 18 100.00 1 100.00 2 100.00 15 100.00
       Male 11 61.11 1 100.00 1 50.00 9 60.00
      Female 7 38.89 0 0.00 1 50.00 6 40.00
Other Countries 69 100.00 43 100.00 6 100.00 20 100.00
Total 14,525 100.00 1,751 12.06 3,991 24.47 8,783 60.46
       Male 10,303 70.90 997 56.94 2,735 68.53 6,571 74.82
       Female 4,222 29.10 754 43.06 1,256 31.47 2,212 25.18

Source: Kritaya Archavanitkul, Pornsuk Koetsawang and Wanna Jarusomboon.  1998.     (Calculated from IDC's Data Base Files, Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Interior.)

+ The Number of Foreign Child Labourers in General Workforce in Thailand:
Nearly 300,000 migrants were registered and allowed to work temporarily in Thailand after the cabinet resolution on June 25, 1996 to acknowledge their presence (see details in Tables 4.1 and 4.2 in Chapter Four). However, the data base files of these registered migrants cannot be used to obtain age and sex structure of the migrants since age and sex were not designed as variables to be keyed in the files. But according to interviews with local authorities and our observations in many provinces, about 20 per cent of registered migrants were aged between 15 to 18. It is likely that some young migrants aged under 15 may have registered by not telling their real age. A large number of these minors work in some factories and as domestic workers. But IDC's data revealed that about 20 per cent of aliens detained in IDC were minors aged between 0-18, and that the ratio between males and females was 71: 29. The estimate presented below covers the number of child migrants aged between 13-18 who were working in Thailand in 1996:
+ The total number of foreign child workers who entered Thailand illegally was 194,180 (20 per cent of 970,900).
+ Of this total number, 135, 926 or 70 per cent were boys and 58, 2S4 or 30 per cent were girls.

+ The Number of Foreign Children in Begging and Soliciting Business in Thailand: According to the 1994 survey of the begging and soliciting business in Thailand, there were totally 3,115 beggars. Among them 922 or 26.5 per cent were child beggars who aged under 18 years old. This survey did not identify the nationality of beggars. However, statistics from transit centres for beggars provided by Department of Social Welfare, MLSW indicated that there were dramatically increasing numbers of foreign beggars sent to the centers from 488 to 1,080, and to 1,282 in 1995, 1996, and 1997 respectively. In addition, if the number of beggars arrested and sent to the centers from October 1, 1996 to July 31, 1997 is considered, 1,282 or 66.8 per cent out of 1,918, were migrant beggars from neighbouring countries (Table 3.2)


Table 3.2: Number and Percentage of Beggars by Nationality
(1 October 1996 to 31 July 1997)

Nationality

Adult Children Total
Female Male Total per
cent
Femal Male Total per
cent
Number per
cent
Cambodian 564 161 725 55.83 222 274 496 79.74 1221 63.66
Burmese* 22 2 24 1.86 12 22 34 5.47 58 3.02
Vietnamese O 3 3 0.24 0 0 0 0 3 0.16
Thai 175 369 544 42.07 23 69 92 14.79 636 33.16
Total 761 535 1296 100 257 365 622 100 1918 100

* Most of them were Indian Muslim from Myanmar.
Source: Calculated from unpublished reports of Department of Social welfare, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, 1997.

 

The greatest number were from Cambodia (1,221) followed by Myanmar (58) and Vietnam (3). It is interesting that only 3 cases of Vietnamese beggars were found, though the number seems to be more 'than that. The fact is that most of the Vietnameses detained in IDC are Vietnamese born in Cambodia, some are from Vietnam however. There is a regular bus deporting Cambodia people via Aranyaprathet immigration check point every week. But the process of repatriating Vietnamese is more complicated and takes longer time, more than 3 months in general. If Vietnameses declare themselves to be Cambodians, they would be out of the centers sooner which was often done.

The number of beggars discussed above is somewhat lower than that of the truth, as the official raid was done only in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. There are also a large number of migrant beggars and street children seen in many big cities, particularly in tourists' spots. It is estimated here that the arrested number above covers only a half of al' beggars throughout the country. The estimated total number of child beggars and solicitors is shown below:

 

+ 184 Thai beggars, 138 boys and 46 girls
+ 1, 060 foreign beggars, 827 boys and 233 girls

(d) Estimated Numbers of Thai and Foreign Child Labour in Thailand: In order to estimate the total number of child labourers in Thailand, the number of Thai child workers collected by the Department of Labour in 1990 was employed. The 1990 number seems to be outdated but given the steadily declining trend of young people participating in the labour force in Thailand, the number of 95,763 child labourers in 1990 may be high. It is reasonable, however, to use the 1990 number because the current economic downturn would lead to an increase of a number of children leaving school in order to join the labour market. Table 3.2 presents the estimated number of child workers in three main groups under this study. The number of Thai child labourers is about half that of their counterparts from neighbouring countries, 108,415 compared to 200,750. About 33 per cent of Thai child workers are males whereas about the same proportion of foreign child labourers are females (32 per cent).

Table 3.2: Estimated Number of Thai and Alien Child Labourers aged 13-18
in Three Areas of Workforce Classified by Sex

Type of Work Thai Alien Total
Male Female Total Male Female   Total Male Female Total
General Work* 34,525 61,238 95,763 135,926 58,254 194,180 170,451 119,492 289,943
Begging, Soliciting 138 46 184 827 233 1,060 965 279 1,244
Sex Work 1,236 11,232 12,468 91 5,419 5,510 1,327 16,651 17,978
Total 35,899 72,516 108,415 136,844 63,906 200,750 172,743 136,422 209,165

* Estimation of Thai child workers in general workforce employed the statistics from Industries and Workers 1990, Department of Labour, MOI cited in Banpasirichot, 1995 (Table A2).

The coverage of the estimation for general workforce and sex work is children aged 13-17. But for begging business, the coverage is somewhat lower to 5-17 years old. It should be stressed that this estimate reflects the cross-sectional number at any one time in 1996, not a cumulative number, derived from a conservative measurement. To be precise, the estimated total number of child workers both Thai and alien which is around 300,000, is believed to be the minimum number. In an other study, it is estimated that right now there are around 200,000 children from Myanmar living in Thailand, but not all of them are child labourers. A large number are children in displaced people camps (Archavanitkul 1 998b). The estimated number of Lao children in Thailand is several ten thousand dispersed along Thailand-Lao border provinces. Considering one province alone, in 1995, more than 15,000 youth in Sawannakhet province migrated for work in Thailand illegally (Lao PDR 1997). It is reasonable to believe that several thousands of Khmer kids are wage labourers in big cities in Thailand as judged by the number that were detained in IDC, presented above in this section, and indicated by a few studies on Cambodian migrant working children (Adjayutpokin et al. 1997; Deraks 1997). In conclusion, the highest number of foreign child workers in Thailand are from Myanmar, followed by those from Laos, and Cambodia.
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