The civil war in Burma/ Myanmar has forced ethnic minorities such as the Karen and Shan to flee to Thailand to escape ethnic cleansing. Decades of conflict have left Burma one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. UNESCO has identified this “lack of citizenship” as a significant risk factor to be trafficked or, otherwise, exploited. Burmese and Hill Tribe women are the most trafficked population in Thailand.
One of the most common tricks that traffickers use to lure young women away from their families is to trick them with the opportunity of employment. With widespread poverty, the idea of being a maid in a big hotel, earning a few dollars a day, is an irresistible temptation. Many leave their villages or refugee camps only to find themselves in the clutches of traffickers and held against their will or told that their family members will be hurt or killed if they try to escape or fight back. It’s an all too common story told time and time again by victims rescued from brothels. These women clamor for urban jobs in hospitality because they’ve seen how tourism has grown and redefined success.
With widespread poverty across the world, there is no shortage of victims or accomplices to feed the human trafficking enterprise. In 1809, at the height of the transatlantic slave trade, the average price of a slave was 40,000 USD (adjusted for inflation). Today it is only 90 USD. With the cost of human life so low, girls are often considered disposable assets. Sex trafficking is now one of the fastest-growing criminal industries, second only to drug smuggling in terms of profits. However, unlike selling an AK47 or a bag of heroin, traffickers generate huge profits by selling a girl hundreds of times.
One of the most popular activities for tourists traveling in Thailand is elephant riding. A Mahout is a person who works with, rides, and tends an elephant. Learn more about elephant caretakers and their historical significance by reading this address from Dr. Jade Kelly.