5.3 Methods of Recruitment
(1) Recruitment from Demand Side
Each network from each place of origins has its own routes and types of work. This is particularly true for the Myanmar-Thai border networks. Networks which bring women and children to sex industry will not take other kinds of labourers. Even though there were small children and middle aged women in their hand, they would send them to the sex establishment anyway. On the contrary, if a young woman wanted to go to be a sex worker but came to a wrong group of traffickers, she would not reach her destination. It is also true that children trafficking from Cambodia to Thailand are mostly abducted into the begging business whereas Laotian children are more likely to end up working in small factories, or businesses, or domestic work. While Vietnamese girls trafficked to Cambodia mostly sold to brothels in Phnom Penh but those taken across to China are most likely to be a wife in rural families as well as an unpaid domestic helper in the same time.
In Thailand, when children with or without family decide to travel across the border, their futures depend largely on brokers. As can be seen that the Mon children both boys and girls who crossed the border at Sangklaburi district would be lead to construction site mostly, while young Karen girls who crossed the border to Tak province would be taken to domestic work. In contrast, it was rare to find the Karen who worked in the construction or the Mon in the domestic work. Children travelled through Maesai district of Chiengrai province would end up in the sex industry even though they did not intend to. It was just because they had no choices. This is why almost all children from Yunnan trafficked via Maesai were sold to the sex establishments (The Yunnan Study). As for child trafficking into the begging and soliciting business. Recruiters specifically search for small children, the handicapped, and the elderly. Interestingly, the network which recruited Khmer children was a different groups from the one which recruits Vietnamese children. And the network which brings Burmese-Indian children from the border community in Maesod district of Tak province would not have any interest in other ethnic groups such as the Mon, the Karen, or the Burman.
The practices mentioned above indicate that children did not have any choices to choose the job if they did not have information in hand where and how to contact the right person. This lack of information opens opportunities for the agents to wait at the border to persuade the women or children to agree that their path was the only suitable and available choice for them. The process of recruiting migrant children is divided into four main procedures.
(a) Forced migration and trafficked: This refers to the group of children who have no intention to go and work abroad. Findings from all country studies confirm, however, that the numbers of children falling in this procurement in every country of this subregion are on decline compared to other means. This is primarily because it is a kind of crime that the state usually controls strictly as well as the risk of being caught is too high. There have been extreme cases of abduction of infants and small children for the begging business. As an example, a six months old Khmer infant was kidnapped for the beggar gang but all were arrested and sent to IDC in Bangkok with the group in December 1997.
(b) Children forced to work in businesses they did not want: These cases also seem to be on the decline especially for the women and girls from Myanmar since there have been some who voluntarily agree to enter the sex industry. The form of indirect sex establishments in Thailand nowadays gives the agents an opportunity to lure young women to accept the job smoothly. However, confinement, physical abuse, ruthlessness, and brutality still exist in this business. Those who face brutality may be the ones who were not cheated or forced by the traffickers. And in the opposite, those who were forced by the trafficker may not face other form of physical abuses such as being beaten, since the physical violence depends on the resistance of the victims and types of the business.

Noi, a Laotian woman from Borkaew who was forced into the sex industry since 16 years old. She is now working in a brothel in a northeastern province in Thailand.

My home is not far from the border. Then there was a Tai-Lue woman from Payao province who knew someone in the village who came to look for domestic helpers. My friend and I went with her to a big province in the north. She took us to the brothels which the owner was also from Payao. The woman who sold us also worked there. She got 50 USD for each one of us. The brothel owner told me to sell my virginity. I was so afraid to be beaten, so I agreed. They told me that I would get 200 USD for my virginity, but I have never seen the money. There were nine women working there. They were all from Myanmar, the Burmese hill tribes and those from Myanmar who can speak Thai like a Thai. Only my friend and I are Laotians. Later on, they took a Burmese hilltribe girl from Maesai . She was only twelve years old. A small child. They said her father sold her and took all the money. This girl was very afraid. She didn’t dare to accept the customers and she was beaten for that. She fled one but was caught just near there. This time they beat her in front of us. A man beat her to scare us. Then I thought I could not bear it any more. I had to escape.

(Interviewed on November 29, 1997)

With regard to girls trafficked from Myanmar to prostitution in Thailand, traffickers and the sex establishment owners generally run their businesses separately. Many owners do not want to have young girls who are forced. Though when a trafficker send a girl who is not willing to work, the owner may let her stay there without physical force. But by the condition in the sex establishment with peer pressure, the girl may accept the job at last. There is a case where the brothel owner called the agents to take the unwilling girl back, but that doesn’t mean she would be able to escape from the network. There are also cases of girls from Myanmar who have had already arrived to do other kinds of work but were lured and forced to be prostitutes later. This procurement is not in practiced widely right now. As mentioned earlier, the push pressure in Myanmar is very strong. The network of child and labour trafficking has grown and connected with the existing group inside Thailand and expanded firmly. As a result, they can develop the recruitment process to be without physical force and strict control, while this is still in a practice of the network from Laos, Khmer , and Vietnam.
The trafficking agents of women and girls from Yunnan, China have better connection in Thailand than those from Laos or Khmer , due to the fact that the networks they have got in Maesai are the strongest ones. It is possible that, one part of network chain may force the children without any participation or agreement from the whole network. As for beggar trafficking, the process of recruiting mostly has been done within the same gangs. The abduction or deception could be done either with or without the child’s parent’s acknowledgement.
(c) Luring without brutality or physical force:  Presently, more and more agents prefer to do this, particularly with trafficking into prostitution. It is more favourable now because the smoother and softer ways would prolong girls and women’s stays, with less work to control them. The same practice is also used with beggars by informing the child and family that they were coming to help ‘selling something’. But at the destinations, the children had to adjust themselves to new surroundings and reality, realizing that to beg was the only choice they had in order to feed themselves or earn a small sum for their own.

La La Aye’s Story, a Myanmarn from Kawtaung in Tennaserim Division.
She was not fully 13 years old when agreed to sell sex.

He took me to this restaurant. They said he got 7.5 USD for that. I don’t know if it’s true or not. The restaurant sold whisky and had a music box. The customers are mostly seamen. There are 12 of us, most of them’re 15-16 years old. There’s one old woman, 25. I’m the youngest. I get 25 USD a month with shelter and food. I can go out buying candies and food during the day time. No problems. But they deduct 300 Baht a month for the police’s fees. It was fun living in Thailand. When the customer called me to go out, If I didn’t like him I didn’t go. No one forced me to do it. But I did not have enough money. Sometimes a drunk guy flirted and played with me. The others said that if I didn’t behave and be nice to the customers, the restaurant’s reputation would be affected. They would said this place had a bad girl, bad manners. But they didn’t be strict with me anyway. After staying there for 3 months, the owner asked me if I would like to sell my virginity. There’s a Thai who’s interested in me. I could get 125 USD as the half he pays. I said..OK. I’ll try. Everybody’re doing this. I was sorry, just a little bit afraid. Now, I have money to buy whatever I want. I also go to Kawtaung and give my mom some money.

(Interviewed on October 17, 1997)

(d) Persuasion to the Agreed Job: There were numbers of young women who were willing to enter sex industry, whether with the intention from home, or with the persuasion of agents. In this study, it is clear that this procurement is a major means to recruit women and children into the sex trade in Thailand from Myanmar, and Yunnan and from Yunnan to Myanmar. As can be seen for the case of Yunnan, the common recruitment of trafficking from 1995 till present is that most women and children are already clearly informed of the types of work to do in Thailand or Burma, and they are willing to go, but did not know how, therefore somebody ‘had to’ lead them, make arrangements for the pick-up, transportation through the check points at the border, and locate them in the receiving countries. Or at times it was a decision after entering the border and finding no other choices. Some are persuaded to shift from other low paid jobs they are engaged in. Furthermore, there are some women and girls who return to the profession after they are able to escape from the forced brothels due to the fact that there are not many choice left for their survival. It is documented in all countries in the subregion that ex-sex workers are more likely to return to sex work if they have no alternatives in the communities of origin or they are desperately in need of money because of their family crisis.
In the case of child beggars and children in other jobs, many young children with parents know their destinations very well. But there are some cases, as in the trafficking for sex industry, that the agents may cheat the clients later, or take an advance money from the employer of the beggar gang leader much more than in the agreement. Sometimes the agents would give incomplete information, such as, the debts of travel cost will be double. As a result, the children have to work in a slavery-like conditions and are not likely to be able to pay back the debts.

The Smooth ways to deceive children becoming sex labourers
by the trafficking network found in Thailand

1. The child would not feel they are cheated since the agents have told them one part of the truth. For example, they would know they were going to work in a restaurant or a traditional massage parlour, and the agents really took them there. And this restaurant was also not a restaurant brothel with women waiting for customers with numbers on their chests, but it was a restaurant with waitresses who could choose whether she liked to sell sex or not.
2. The children will not feel they are ‘forced to be sex workers’. The agents and owners would not pressure them. When there was no pressure, there would not be resistance or trying to escape.
3. With social integration, the children would get used to and perceive the sex trade as normal. They would reach their goal to save a large amount of money or to send money home by just following their peers. All the owner of the establishment has to do is to let the child stay in that conditions for some time and then friends will simply persuade her into the business.
4. The sub-culture in some indirect sex establishments would not accept the term ‘selling sex’. But they will use the ‘having a boyfriend’ system. Though in some places, a term ‘having a boyfriend’ is not used, but the customers have to approach the girls on their own. As a result, the girl would accept with pride as other women in other societies who are approached by men. Also she would feel she is the one who decides and has the right to choose. To sell her body would start with a regular customer who the girl feels close to, then the numbers of the customer would increase when she becomes used to it.
5. The strongest factor that pushed girls decided to sex sex was their unexpectedly high amount of debt from their trafficking agents. Though some agents have told their clients the real figures, most of the girls would not be able to calculate their high expenses in Thailand. By the time they came to understand about their income and spending, they have already had integrated into their environment softly. And no one want to return home empty handed.
However, at the end, no matter how the trafficking agents recruit and sell the children, after arriving at the workplace, the situation may become better or worse without the agents interference. Some girls are lured and forced to go to the brothels, but the owner there may not force or beat her, and also pay her income as promised. In the opposite way, some girls are brought to the place as agreed, but the owner of that sex establishment may force them to do too hard work, not allowing to refuse the customers even though they are sadist, and may detain and force to work without pay.
(2) Recruitment from Supply Side
The process of sending child migrants to the destination workplaces can be done in many ways. Different agents had different methods, and some might use all the methods depends on the situation. There are 4 major ways to hand the children to the employers.
(a) Delivery by order: Employers contact the trafficking agents to get the child labourers. The employers may request their requirements by indicating the age, origin, Thai language skills, working experience, etc. Apart from these characteristics, the owners of the sex establishments usually specify their need on appearance, skin collar, and virgin status.
(b) Contact the employers to offer the children: Normally, the agents would have supply of children and/or adult workers so they have to search for a workplace for them. There might be times when competition is high; so some agents have to reduce prices as marketing.
(c) Take the children to offer from place to place: In case of Thailand, when the agents have many children in hand, they would put them in a van and drive to places where they have contacts. The difference is that in the sex trade, the girls have to get out of the car to be chosen by the owners of the sex establishments. Then the agents would continue to other places. If there were any left after going to all the places, the agents might go back to their regular clients to offer the girls at reduced prices. In the case of Vietnam, the trade in girls into marriage uses a similar way as can be seen from the following testimony:

A Vietnamese girl was trafficked into marriage. Her family is under poverty and landless.

My home is located on the mountainous community near the border. When I was 17, I and my father were hired to work in a village close to Bang Tuong in China. One day I was persuaded to go out by a Chinese women to somewhere I did not know. We travelled by a car. She took me from house to house in the market to ask whether anyone wanted to marry this girl. Then I was sold to a little San Khay who was 15 years old, 2 years younger than me. For 62.50 USD. That guy had parents and 4 siblings. San Khay was the eldest. I was confined in the house, under strict control and he did not let me to go anywhere. I had to share the same room and bed with him, but he was too little and knew nothing. I tried to be honest and hardworking. When they trusted me, they agreed to let me learn to ride a bicycle and did not control me strictly. I often moaned and cried because of missing my parents and my brothers a lot. I always searched for a way to escape.

(Interviewed on January 3, 1998)

(d) The employers come to select workers: This is found to operate via job placement agencies as documented in a study on Laotian workers in Thailand. The Laotian agent brought the children who came to Thailand for the first time to the agencies located at the central railway station in Bangkok. The agent left after receiving money from the agency they contacted. The children had to stay at the agency until they were selected by any employer, who were most likely to own small business or run small factories (Wiroonrapun and Patano 1997). This process is also practised for other types of business, among the agents and the employers who regularly do business together. The agent may ask the employer to come and choose the workers at their place when they have many trafficked children in hand.
5.4 The Costs and Profits Involved
It is unquestionably that the trafficking business makes enormous profit. In this subregion, traffickers gain a lot of money through following deceptions:
(1) Travel cost The travel cost could be substantially different form one another. However, in some routes such as Maesai-Bangkok suburban would cost around 125 USD. The price depends on the restriction of the authorities at that time, the risk, and depends on how the children would pay. The debts have to be doubled.
(2) Agent’s fee This is used in the case of trafficking into sex industry in Thailand. The agents would charge this fee for both Thai and foreign girls, and many agents charge them equal. The virgin girls may have a higher price. Many owners may use the broker fee as a guarantee. If the girls worked according to the duration of the agreement, which could be six months or one year, the women or girls may not have to pay for this fee. However, this practice largely depends on the business owners.
(3) Advanced payment Agents normally use the advanced payment to lure the children who would like to earn income for their families. The amount of the payment is not too high in case the children would run away. As for general child labour, the advance payment is given enough for expenses in the first month before they can get wages. But for the case of parents selling their daughter, the amount of money the agent paid to the parents the daughter has to pay double to the agent within a certain period of time agreed upon by each other.
(4) Income collection Different brokers or agents have different ways of collecting money, which depends on the type of business they send the children to. Some girls might use a large sum of money they got from selling properties to pay the agents up front. Sometimes the payment is in the form of gold, especially for the Mon agent from the southern part of Myanmar, or sometimes in local currency of the destination country. Local currency in the country of origin would be taken only when the women or girls paid for their trips inside the country of origin only. In the sex trade, the agents usually take the advanced money from the employers. The agents would obtain a lump sum and the owners would collect debt from the girls themselves. In case the women or girls escaped during the agreement period which could be six months or one year, the owners would try to get compensation from the agents, and the agents might try to get the money back from the girls or her family. In other business, the agents would collect the debt themselves. The agent may assign their sub-agents to control their debtors from escaping. The amount of debt normally would be doubled.
(5) Extra Services The agents also provide extra services to the children such as; transportation back home, and sending money home. The agents would use a postal address at the border to receive money, or asked the children to transfer money into their bank accounts, and their sub-agent would take it to the children’s families. The agent would deduct 20 per cent of the money for their fees. Other agents might force offered services such as; accommodation, food, clothing which children could not refuse. Similar process has also developed by the trafficking networks from Cambodia to Thailand with 10 per cent fee paid to the contact person who handed the money to the child’s family.
(6) Income dividing in the network which an ‘A’ still keeps the girls in control. These girls would be the most exploited because the agents or ‘A’ will receive the girls’ income from the owner of the place and split the money into half, though normally this income has already been divided into half for the owner and half for the girls. This type of business is present in Thailand only.
Whether the women or girls expected the debt payment conditions from their agents, and were willing to work at the job they were sent to or not, the fact is that child trafficking made tremendous amount of profits, even if the agents did not cheat their victims. The profits were split between the traffickers and the officials involved. The business owners get a large amount of benefits too. For the children, though they might receive some money, the negative impact cannot be calculated. Children are denied the rights to choose and have not gotten complete information. As a result, their fate; which kind of work they are taken to, which kind of sex establishment they have to work, how much is the income, how is the work conditions all depends upon the trafficking agents’ decision.

Pinchan’s Story, a Tai Lue girl from Xintiabanna, China.
She moved to Maesai at the age of 11, and entered the sex industry at the age of 16.

Before I left home, I took 500 USD in advance for my family. Including travel cost, it was 750 USD debts. They gave the money to my family right away because I could repay a lot after selling my virginity. If I wasn’t a virgin, I could not take a lot of advance money like this. They charge me 250 USD if I borrow 125 USD. No,..they’re not afraid that I would run away because my home is in Mae Sai. If my parents need money, they could ask from the agents also. But this agent wasn’t good. They cheated me. I received a customer for 30 USD. The place get 16.25 USD, the agent took 6.25 USD, and I got only 5 USD. They only wrote down in the account but when I asked for the money, they didn’t give it to me. Altogether my parents got only 1,875 USD from me. But I slept with about 5-6 customers every day. I was allowed to take a rest only 3 days when I had my period. The rest I had to put a cotton in vagina. I’ve calculated that in one month, I should’ve earned 750-1,000 USD. And for a year I’ve been there, it should be around 12,500 USD. Though they deducted the debts, charged the debts doubled, I should have at least 2,500 USD left. But I ‘ve got nothing.

(Interviewed many times, the latest was on November 21, 1997

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