What is Human Trafficking

From commercial sexual exploitation to debt bondage, organ removal and beyond, human trafficking is the catch-all term for contemporary forms of forced labor and slavery.

It’s tempting to think of human trafficking as if it’s simply a matter of evil individuals preying on gullible victims. The reality is more complex. Mass migration and migration laws, poverty and desperation, lack of opportunities, radical inequalities at local, national, and global levels, corruption, sexism, racism, greed, and a global economy that seeks profit from exploitation all contribute to theĀ epidemic of human trafficking.

International laws set standards that enable multinational collaboration in combating this global injustice. In 2000, the United Nations Palermo Protocol made it international law that any child under age 18 offering sexual services in the commercial sex industry is considered a trafficked person, regardless of the conditions of recruitment or work.

Human Trafficking In Thailand

thailand-downtownThailand is a microcosm of this global epidemic. Many of its estimated 425,500 trafficking victims are forced laborers in the fish, garment, or shrimp industries. Many other Thais are exploited in the commercial sex industry. While technically illegal in Thailand, the sale of sex happens openly, and it’s estimated that up to 60,000 children take part in the Thai commercial sex trade every year. The average age of these children is between 12 and 20 years old, and the majority of them come from the less-developed regions of Northern Thailand.

Northern Thailand has the nation’s highest percentage of those who have never attended school: 9.9%. It also has the lowest average number of years of schooling: 7.31 years for boys and 6.56 years for girls, both of which fall under the already-low compulsory level of 9th grade.

Dismal education rates often coincide with supply sites for sex traffickers.

Cutting Off Supply

bangkokIn a study of child sex workers in the Northern Thailand region of Chiang Rai, researcher Simon Baker agrees: “The best data indicating the number of children at risk of being victims of child prostitution [sic] are education enrollment figures. Education is a surrogate measure for both child labour and child prostitution [sic].”

In Chiang Rai, where the SOLD Project operates, many children and youth are at risk of being trafficked. However, two groups, in particular, are especially vulnerable. Those from the hill tribes face greater risk due to a lack of decent schools, higher levels of poverty and drugs, and poor infrastructure. Many hill tribe members are also stateless, which increases their risk exponentially. Girls face greater risk as well. Data from a Thailand Ministry of Public Health survey led to estimates of 3 to 4 male sex workers for every 100 females. Once trafficked for sex, Thai girls can end up anywhere in the world, from Bahrain to Canada, from Japan to the USA, from South Africa to Bangkok.

The SOLD Project is a direct response to this reality. Through strategic and proven interventions, we prevent the trafficking and exploitation of at-risk Thai children.

About The SOLD Project

The SOLD Project prevents child sexual exploitation and trafficking in Thailand, providing vulnerable Thai children and youth with scholarships and resources to help them break the cycle of poverty, avoid the dangers of child trafficking, and lead productive, independent lives.


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    Oakland, CA 94612
  • 925-452-7653