Appendix B

Research Teams and Research Sites


I. Research Teams and Timeline
Since this study is aimed to examine the child trafficking problem in the Mekong Subregion, it was earlier designed to have the country study carried out in all six riparian countries of Mekong river. In practice, however, there are four research teams involved in this subregional study:
(a) The Thai Team: This team is led by the Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol University. The team served as the Director of a core team in conducting the research covering 3 countries: Thailand, Myanmar and the Lao PDR. The Thai team is also responsible for selecting research associates in Yunnan Province of China and Vietnam and supervising their activities to ensure uniformity and quality of their country studies as well as synthesizing all country studies into a subregional report. Data collection of the Thai team study was from August 1997 to January 1998. From mid November 1997 to mid of March 1998, the additional task of the team was to co-ordinate the research work undertaken in Vietnam and China.
(b) The Vietnam Team: The country study of Vietnam is conducted by the Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED). This organization is a leading women’s NGO in Hanoi. This team started to analyze documentary data and conduct field research in mid December 1997 and completed the task in February 1998.
(c) The Yunnan Team: The country study of Yunnan Province in China is conducted by the Institute of Sociology, Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences. The Yunnan team spent most of their research activities in collecting data in 8 border areas from end of December 1997 until the middle of January and again for almost the whole month of February 1998.
(d) The Cambodia Team: A national programmed co-ordinator of IPEC/ILO for Cambodia is responsible for carrying out the Cambodia country study. The research work of this team was mainly based on analyzing research papers and governmental documents related to the child trafficking problem in Cambodia.
In order to ensure the uniformity of the country study, a workshop to bring together all research teams to discuss about each country’s findings and a plan for final report writing was held on January 30-31, 1998 in Bangkok organized by IPSR, Mahidol University. This synthesis report is written mainly based on the information obtained from the four reports produced by the four research teams. To the achieve specific objectives of the study mentioned before, the primary goal of this report is to synthesize findings and reflect the overall situation of trafficking in children at the Mekong Subregional level .
II. Research Sites
Profile of the research sites where research activities occurred are highlighted, by country Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Yunnan. The trips to Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia were conducted by the Thai research team.
1. Thailand
Based on the estimations from the research paper entitled ‘Policy Options for Importation of Foreign Labour into Thailand’ (Archavanitkul et al. 1997), the Thai team selected 13 border provinces and 3 inner provinces of Thailand where large numbers of migrant workers were present. These 16 provinces were announced the provinces migrant workers can legally register for temporary work permit according to the 25 June 1996 Cabinet Resolution. The team was divided into 2 groups with one interviewing the local health authorities and the other interviewing the local staff from the Department of Employment. The interviews with both local agencies then led to visiting sex establishments, and other work sites of migrant labour. The team learned from the authorities the implementation of the state policy at local levels and their strategies and approaches to problems and issues around trafficking in foreign women and children. Meetings, having meals and interviewing with foreign women and children at brothels and other work sites also provided the research team with significant information and data regarding their lives in Thailand, their being trafficked, the human trade networks, the severity of the situations, and etc. The followings are profile of the 16 selected provinces:
Central provinces (Bangkok, Nakonpatom and Samutsakorn)
Bangkok     There is all types of business in Bangkok that needs labour from migrant workers. There are evidently strong systematic networks of receiving and sending human for all types of business including sex business and begging and soliciting business. People trafficked through and for Bangkok are men, women and children of all nations from Maekong Basin Countries and other countries in the world. Especially for begging and soliciting business, Bangkok is the centre for it. Victims of the business are mostly Thai children, Cambodian, Vietnamese from Cambodia, and Indian-Burman children. There are many types of sex establishments in Bangkok. Some of them favour virgin migrant girls for their Chinese customers. These children and young women are mostly sent directly from Maesai gateway in northern Thailand.
IDC was a major source of data collection in Bangkok. The research team was divided into two small teams with one working with the IDC ‘s computer staff and the other conducting interviews with women and children in IDC. The first team worked with the IDC’s computer staff for two weeks, and finally at the end of August 1997, the team was able to duplicate all files from IDC. The files contain personal characteristics of aliens including sex, age, nationality, and date entering and deporting from IDC. The findings derived from these files are presented in Chapter Three.
Nakonpatom is a transit province for transportation of goods from western and southern Thailand to other parts of the country. In the city of Nakonpatom, migrant labour is needed in factories, agricultural business and for construction work. There are sex establishments in Nakonpatom which have hundreds of migrant children and women from Chiangrai available for sex service. Children and women are routinely brought from Chiangrai to these sex places in Nakonpatom and referred out to other sex places in other parts of the country and as well as outside of the country.
Samutsakorn is a harbour town for mainly fishery business. It is one of the main connecting points receiving migrant labour from Myanmar from Tak, Kanchanaburi, and Ranong provinces and transferring out for employment throughout Thailand and outside Thailand. Communities of migrants from Myanmar in Samutsakon are so crowded that one could take it by mistake that Samutsakon is a border province rather than reality as an inner province near Bangkok. Interviews with the undocumented Burmese workers and their families in Bangkok’s periphery were mainly conducted at Mahachai District of Samutsakorn province using assistance from Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB). The district has been named the biggest Burmese community in Bangkok periphery by some Thai government officials. Every Sunday, TACDB organizes informal language classes (Burmese and Thai) for free of charge. Most workers attending the classes were young women. The team visited and interviewed the workers at Mahachai every Sunday as well as organized for the workers sessions such as being migrant workers and getting arrested, introduction to labour laws and rights, and women health’s problems and how to access to health services and information. Sex trade networks in Samutsakon are found to be domestic networks between the province and Ranong and some other provinces. There was no evidence of any cross-border networks into Myanmar.
Southern border provinces (Ranong, Phuket and Songkla)
Ranong is a border province across from Tanassarim Division of Southern Myanmar. It is historically a cross-border trade town. When there was exodus of migrant labour from Myanmar into Thailand, Ranong has been a major gateway for receiving and sending of labour to other areas in Thailand. In Ranong itself, there is need for migrant workers in business such as fishery and rubber plantation. Migrant workers from Myanmar live in communities throughout the province. The team gained access through working with an NGO ‘World Vision Foundation’ to different individuals who provided the team with ‘insight’ information.
Sex establishment in Ranong is divided up by one setting with migrant sex workers and another with Thai sex workers. The migrant ones usually serve migrants from Myanmar, usually crew of fishery boats. One street near a harbour in Ranong was evidently filled with brothels, restaurants and karaokes. A local NGO estimated that there were more than 500 sex workers in Ranong. A survey and interviews with migrant sex workers by the research team indicated that these young women were in their 16-17 years of age with a group of them ages 13-14 years old. This younger sex workers’ main clients were Thai men since the service rates were more expensive than those of the older ones. Ranong is an entering point where migrant women are brought into sex work. There is however no strong evidence that there are strong networks sending girls into sex business in other areas of Thailand. There is procurement of individual women for cross-border sex work to Malaysia, but never a network for many women at the time. It seemed as though sex service customers in other nearby southern provinces including Phuket and Songkla favour women from Maesai gateway in the North than from Ranong gateway.
Phuket is a famous tourist spot. Migrant workers in Phuket are mostly sent from Ranong. According to the interviews with 4 Burman sex workers at an indirect brothel, the majority of clients at the traditional massage house where they worked were mostly Chinese and Japanese tourists. Western tourists like to go to Thai sex workers at night clubs and beer bars along the beaches more. Along Patong beach at night, children were found begging and soliciting. Most of these children were Cambodian and Vietnamese and were trafficked from Thailand eastern borderline. It was reported that Mon-Burman children who travelled with their families to work in construction sites were often found begging as well. These children often faced with hunger and ended up begging because they saw other children did it and made some income out of it. The children however were not favoured by begging gangs and were often chased away from the areas.
Songkla The economic centre of Songkla where tourists from Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries often visit is Had Yai. All types of business from grocery stores to sex business preferably hire Tai and KMT Chinese because of their Chinese speaking capability. Another important spot in Songkla is Sadao, a border district geographically connected to Malaysia. Sadao is known for it being a major gateway sending women and children to Malaysia, Singapore and onto Taiwan. Apparently, there were many sex establishments visibly in the area. A Thai sex worker reported that the majority of sex workers in Sadao were women from Myanmar. At the time she was working in Sadao, she was the only Thai woman at her work.
Northern border provinces (Chiangrai, Chiangmai and Mae Hong Son)
There are routes of migration and routes of trafficking in women and children from Myanmar and Laos along the borderline of these 3 provinces. The major trafficking routes and gateway among all is Maesai, Chiangrai. Sex work is the type of business women and children are being trafficked into. Male migrant labour or children and women labour into other workforce was not clearly mentioned. It is known that Maesai is a contact place among agents receiving girls and women from Myanmar and China and sending them to sex establishments throughout Thailand and to networks outside Thailand.
Chiangrai is a centre for the Economic Quadtriangle Co-operation among Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China. There are many sex establishments both along borderline and at hotels in the city of Maesai. The sex workers are mainly young women from inner cities of Myanmar and Yunnan province of China. Clients at cheap brothels along the Maesai borderline are mostly local Thais and migrant workers from Myanmar while clients at hotels are Thai tourists and tourists from other Asian countries. Clients at hotels in Maesai pays more and mostly prefer young and virgin girls. An interview with a sex worker in the area informed the research team that many girls and young women from Myanmar and China are brought in to sell sex service for their first time in Maesai and later persuaded to continue the sex work in other parts of Thailand and sometimes in the third country.
Chiangmai There is no strong networks in trafficking of women and children into sex work in Chiangmai. Types of work where thousands of migrant workers in Chiangmai undertake include work in agricultural farms, at construction sites, at homes as domestic workers, and at stores as shopkeepers. Young women crossing border to work in Chiangmai usually did not intend to do sex work but were lured into the business. Sex establishments in Chiangmai generally take women from Maesai border instead.
Mae Hong Son is a small remote province in the valleys between Thailand and Myanmar. The promoted tourist theme for the province emphasizes on its natural and cultural heritage. Migrant child labour in Mae Hong Son is mostly found working along with their parents at construction sites or in service business such as hotel and restaurant, gas stations, and etc. The children apparently lived with their families and worked to support the families. There had been a famous case of a Thai tourist business firm forcefully recruiting Palong hill tribe families to leave their home and relocate at tourist spots for viewing purpose. There are a few sex establishments in Mae Hong Son. The sex workers were mostly from Chiangmai and other provinces.
Western border provinces (Tak and Kanchanaburi)
Maesod, Tak is a border district across from Karen State of Myanmar. Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi is also a border district across from Mon State of Myanmar. Thais, Mons and Karens across these border areas have historically shared cultures and languages and exchanged goods and services. Because language and cultural barriers between Thais and the people from Myanmar in Maesod and Sangklaburi are not great, it is easier for migrant workers to flee their country via Maesod and Sangklaburi and sometimes in transit to other areas in Thailand.
Female migrants who were lured into sex work in Kanchanaburi were both lured from Kanchanaburi-Burma border areas and from Chiangrai. The sex work networks in Kanchanaburi are not strong and not organized in terms of systematically sending women to sex establishments throughout Thailand. Maesod is an area where Indian-Burmans (Muslim) from Myanmar migrated to the most. Children of these Indian-Burman families are the majority of children from Myanmar being trafficked into begging and soliciting business in Bangkok.
Northeastern border provinces (Mukdahan, Nakonpanom and Nongkai)
Nongkai The city of Nongkai is across from Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. After the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge was officially opened for service in 1993, Nongkai has also become a centre for Economic Quadtriangle Co-operation in northeastern Thailand with a highway and 20 minute ride from Nongkai straight to Vientiane. Even though Nongkai is not one of the provinces illegal migrants can legally register for work permit as announced by the 25 June 1997 Cabinet Resolution, Nongkai as a border province draws many Laotians and other ethnic of Laos into employment in Thailand. The majority of them are ages between 15-24 years old. The types of work are usually in the fields of construction, agriculture, family factory, and domestic work. Nongkai has recently announced the province as a tourist town and a gateway to Indochina. Hotel and restaurant business and as well as other service based business such as sex business have been developed and rapidly grown over the past recent years. A hotel staff reported that the hotel male clients all wanted to have sex with virgin girls from Laos. The hotel therefore has to procure girls from Laos to service their customers.
Mukdahan is located across from Sawannakhet district of Laos. There is a main road cutting cross from Sawannakhet to Danang of Vietnam. This enables easy transportation of goods from Vietnam, China and Russia into Thailand. Mukdahan has variety of cheap Indochinese goods to attract customers. Hotels have been built during the past years. Recently, Mukdahan has tried to develop and establish itself to respond to the future growth of cross-country trade. Young people from Laos are recruited or voluntarily cross the border for vase employment in Thailand. Types of work include work in sex establishments, restaurants, general stores, brick factories and construction sites.
Nakonpanom is not as active of a town as Nongkai or Mukdahan. There is no official border point in this province. Nakonpanom however distributes itself to networks of trafficking and migrating of children because of it being a centre for convenient surface transportation. Nakonpanom has public bus terminals to various areas in Thailand. The research team met with Laotian sex workers aged between 14-19 years old at direct brothels in the province. Data from the local public health authority indicated that Laotian girls visit Nakonpanom during its special events to sell sex service. Some offer the service to 30 customers per day. There are also children from Laos crossing for other types of employment as well.
Eastern border provinces (Jantaburi and Trad)
It was reported that approximately 20% of registered migrant workers in these 2 provinces are younger than 18 years old. Some migrant workers from Myanmar has been working in the areas for 10 years since gem industry was still in its high time. The research team interviewed migrant children who were born in Thailand and found that these children did not go to school and had to start working at very early age.
2. Myanmar
Tachilek: Tachilek is a border town across from Maesai Thai-Burmese border in northern Thailand. The economic situation in Tachilek is visibly better than that of Burmese inner cities. Tachilek is an entering point for trafficking routes from Myanmar and southern China into Thailand. The locals of Tachilek or the people who have lived in the area for more than 15 years are mostly Shan and Tai-Lue who migrated from inner Shan State and Yunnan province of China. These new comers are at worst economic situation when compare to the locals. Some new migrants of Tachilek moved to work in this border areas and sent money home and later moved their family along in some cases. Some new migrants moved their whole family at their first migration and tried to settle in Tachilek. When Tachilek started to be a popular migration destination, employment was getting to be more difficult to find. Many daughters of Tachilek have to flee the difficult economic situation in search for work and income to support their families in Thailand. There are apparently indirect sex establishments in Tachilek. Sex workers at the places are usually from Burmese inner cities and at high potential of being persuaded into sex work in Thailand. The indirect sex business in Tachilek grew after the town has been announced a trade and tourism zone of Myanmar. An NGO stated that an estimated number of sex workers and sex establishments in Tachilek is 200 persons and 30 places.
Yangoon: There are visibly many street children in Yangoon. Approximately more than 100 children, many of whom were apparently under 10 years of age, were present around the central market areas at a community the research team made visits to. Some children had to work and contribute to their family income. Some of them lived on their own and took the markets as their shelters. Since 1989 when the government replaced slum communities at areas outside of Yangoon city, the number of street children in Yangoon has dramatically increased. The policy places people who already had to work from hand to mouth in Yangoon city at even more difficult situations. Their family expenses increase as they have to commute to work in the city. Some families take markets or sport stadium as their shelters. Some women have to take freelance sex work to support their families. There is a large income gap and vase different life styles among the Yangoon people. According to some middle class people, it was not clear to them of situations around border areas and how severe the situations were. They were not aware of any other push factors for migration of people from Myanmar to Thailand neither.
3. Lao PDR
Laos or Lao’s People Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is divided into 17 small districts. The largest district is Vientiane. The second, third and forth largest is Sawannakhet, Borkaew, and Champasak. The four districts are border districts to the North and Northeastern Thailand. According to interviews and conversations with Lao government officials, the government has begun to realize problems related Lao child labour in Thailand. Laos Women’s Union is presently conducting research on trafficking in children and women in Vientiane. Some immigration office in border villages have experimentally collected and organized cross-border travellers’ departure and arrival data. It is indicated by Lao laws that children under the age of 14 are not allowed to cross Thai-Laos border on their own. If they do so and it was because they went to Thailand for work purpose, they will be fined and sent to a vocational school for vocational training. Presently, the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare will collaborate with the Thai government in receiving child labour returnees back to Laos. The project is in its first phase and being developed for Plans of Action and strategies. However, collaboration work and exchange of information among concerned organizations were found to be limited and sometimes not collaborative.
4. Cambodia
The Thai team also made a visit to Koh Kong, a Cambodian border province across from Trad, Thailand. Due to the political uncertainties and fights in Cambodia at the time of data collection, we had to contact and make appointments with government officials via collaborated support from the local army bases both of Koh Kong and Trad. The research team met and had a conversation with the Governor of Koh Kong and the director and his staff from Koh Kong hospital.
Koh Kong hospital is an extremely underdeveloped hospital with insufficient and inadequately functioning basic medical equipment. The hospital looked as though it was haunted although there were 6 in-patients on the scene. Most medical care is given to out patients. Health care providers would prescribe some medicine and the clients have to purchase the medicine on their own from a commercial based pharmacy. The hospital could not offer much nor choices of medicine since the federal government had not supplied them with anything for several months already. The hospital staff themselves have worked months and got paid for one month. The costs of living in Koh Kong is close to that of Trad province although the government rate salary for the hospital director was only 17.5 USD. Koh Kong hospital is currently working in collaboration with Klong Yai District Hospital of Trad on and AIDS project.
The latest survey in 1997 by Koh Kong hospital staff states that there were 467 sex workers in Koh Kong. Among these were 378 brothel based, 39 were restaurant based, and 50 were bar based. The sex service charge at 2.50 USD for one time service was rated as cheap brothel rate. The majority of sex workers were Cambodian with some Vietnamese born Cambodian women. Groups of their main clients were men from Thailand, cross-border Cambodian merchants, and army officers since these were the men who could effort rather expensive sex service in Koh Kong.
5. Vietnam
Northern border provinces (Lang Son, Quang Ninh): There are routes of trafficking in women and children from northern provinces along the border between Vietnam and China. The major trafficking routes and gateway among all are Lang Son and Quang Ninh. It is known that Lang Son and Quang Ninh are contact places among agents receiving girls and women from many provinces of the Red River Delta, such as, Thanh Hoa, Thai Binh, Hai Duong, Ha Tay, etc. and sending them to China.
Southern border provinces (Tay Ninh, Kien Giang, An Giang): There are three provinces in West Southern border area between Vietnam and Cambodia. The route of trafficking in women and children from Southern provinces mostly goes through border of the Tay Ninh province. It is known that Tay Ninh is a contact place among agents receiving girls and women form many provinces of the Cuu Long River Delta, especially Ho Chi Minh City and sending them to brothels in Cambodia. The trafficked girls were mostly in their 16-17 years of age with some of them aged 13-14 years old.
6. Yunnan Province of China
In order to obtain a clear and objective picture of the cross-border migration and trafficking in women and children in Yannan Province, 8 counties and cities from 4 prefectures were selected as research sites: Longchuan County and Ruili City of Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, Lincang and Gengma Counties of Lincang Prefecture; Menglian and Lancang Counties of Simao Prefecture; and Jinghong City and Menghai county of sipsongbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. They have altogether a total borderline of over 1,200 kilometers with Myanmar, particularly the Kachin State, Shan State and the Wa State in the western and southwestern parts of Yunnan Province. Despite of the vastness of the territory, much focus was concentrated on the border regions, where the migration is more prominent in the province. Very detailed field works were carried out in some areas, while some macro-scopic studies and observations have been made in some places where the problem is more hidden.
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