Human Trafficking: airlines taking responsibility

Whilst many readers have visited Thailand and experienced the seemingly opulent nature of Bangkok’s high rise buildings, temples and hotels, it is also impossible to walk the streets without noticing the beggars with all their deformities, the homeless children and prostitutes. In the western world, prostitution is often a choice or the result of an individual ‘going off the rails’ (whether perceived as such or not); in Thailand, on the other hand, prostitutes are victims of poverty and abuse. In July, Zoë Baum visited Thailand as part of a human trafficking awareness and prevention initiative. She now explains just why airlines must play their part in tackling modern day slavery.

Whilst Thailand is often referred to as ‘The Land of Smiles’ so many of these smiles are masks which thinly veil a multitude of stories of human suffering.

When I visited Thailand earlier this year as part of a human trafficking prevention delegation, organised by the charity JUSTIFI, I met an inspirational woman called Bonita; she had founded Home of New Beginnings. This non-profit organisation is primarily focused on rescuing young girls from the Go-Go bars in Bangkok and taking them to a safe house where they learn how to rebuild their lives and discover new ways to finance themselves. Bonita visits the bars herself, entering as if she was a customer and identifying those who she believes might be persuaded to escape the seedy world in which they have found themselves. Those girls who have the best chance of being saved are younger victims who are not yet reliant on drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of abuse and depression and therefore have to finance the purchase of such substances. Victims who are being exported overseas are less likely to be dependent on substance abuse as they are generally naive and believe that they are travelling for legitimate employment.

It is important to note that these young girls are not persuaded over night. Bonita, with time on her hands and a charitable mission in life, builds a relationship with the prostitutes in order to gain their trust and slowly convince them of alternatives. It is unfortunate that in the aviation

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