Two important things have happened recently which demonstrate the seriousness of the human trafficking problem in Thailand and the importance of anti-trafficking programs like DEPDC/GMS. First, Major General Paween Pongsirin, Thailand’s top human trafficking investigator, applied for political asylum in Australia, saying he feared for his life after his investigations implicated senior Thai police and military figures in Thailand’s human trafficking industry.
Second, the Associated Press published a report exposing the extent of forced labour in Thailand’s shrimp and seafood industry, which comes despite years of Thai governments pledging to seriously address the issue. The report also stated that some of the seafood produced from these plants made it to shelves in US stores. These events highlight the ongoing severity of human trafficking in Thailand, and emphasise the major need for anti-trafficking programs that understand the causes of human trafficking and ways to prevent them – like ours here at DEPDC/GMS.
As we talk about often, human trafficking is caused by various elements, all of which need to be understood to properly address the problem. These include sexism that devalues women and girls and normalises their exploitation. It also includes the undervaluation of education, which leads people to neglect its vital role in each child’s developing future. However, as we’ve discussed on this blog for a long time, the bedrock cause at the heart of the issue is poverty. No doubt, sexism and undervaluing education play their part, as do corruption in communities and the poisonous influence of gangs and mafia, but poverty lies at the core.
When poverty and desperation become extreme enough, people can be capable of remarkable mental gymnastics to justify letting their children and loved ones be exploited for the financial benefit of the family. In situations like this, sexism and devaluing education even become ways to dismiss the clear depravity of human trafficking by diminishing the worthiness of its victims and disregarding education as a long-term alternative and prevention strategy.
Clearly, all of these issues need to be addressed, such as by empowering women and young girls against sexism, empowering children against being viewed as property to be used as the family sees fit, and providing safety from the gangsters and corrupt officials who look to prey on at-risk children. However, poverty remains the key issue, and only by giving our children the ability to live economically independent, self-sufficient lives, and developing the communities in which they live in order to reduce poverty, can we hope to most effectively prevent at-risk kids like ours from becoming victims of human trafficking.
Because of this, we’re proud to say that, for the last 26 years, that’s exactly what DEPDC/GMS has done. It’s not easy to prove that prevention work such as ours is effective. We can list honours and awards that we’re extremely grateful to have won, but it takes time and research to be able to prove that our program does what it’s designed to do. Well, after 26 years, we’ve gathered our research and we’re able to say that, of the thousands of daughters and sons who’ve passed through our program since 1989, more than 97% remained safe from human trafficking after completing our program.
Some have even gone on to accomplish more than we could have possibly imagined, such as one who was able to go to university in the US, now owns their own Thai and English language school, and gives presentations on statelessness to the UN. They deserve the credit for these achievements, which they managed to gain despite major disadvantages. We’re just glad to have been able to help them be the person that they had within themselves to be – a future which unfair circumstances might have otherwise stolen from them. This is what we’ve done, it’s what we do, and it’s what we’ll continue to do for the next 26 years so long as there are children who need and deserve our help. We hope that you’ll be with us for the future as you have been for the past.
If you’d also like to give your support, we’d love to have you on board! If you’ve ever considered getting involved and volunteering, please don’t hesitate to visit the volunteer information page on our blog and get in touch. We always love having more members in our international family, and your help will go further than you can imagine. Or if you can’t volunteer but feel like you’d like to make a contribution, please visit our GlobalGiving donations page here to pick which of our programs you’d like to contribute to, like our sustainable agriculture project or our lunch program. Thank you for reading and we wish you all the best.