GIRLS AT RISK: Many young girls in Thailand are at risk because their families are poor and they’re not as valued as male children.One day Lin’s good friend returned from a working stint at a large karaoke bar in Chiang Rai. She invited Lin to work with her and her “boyfriend” at a “restaurant.” Having lived a sheltered life in the hills, Lin did not realize that the restaurants and karaoke bars were places where adult men go in hopes of meeting young girls, who often end up victims of sexual exploitation.
KEEPING GIRLS SAFE: ADRA currently is providing educational scholarships for almost 60 girls in Thailand through its Keep Girls Safe program. Two staff members (one on each end) and four students are shown here.Put a face on this dilemma. Women and girls who are victims of sexual violence are among the most disadvantaged of this world, mainly because their suffering is not acknowledged. Most survivors of trafficking in persons have no legal redress or reparation. They are humiliated and subjugated and suffer the physical and psychological consequences of the violence. Victims need medical care and counseling, especially if they are living with HIV and/or AIDS. But they face formidable obstacles in obtaining these services, the understanding that they are truly the victims, and the respect they deserve. It’s essential that these women, like any woman, be ensured their fundamental rights.
SCHOOL BUILDING: The Keep Girls Safe program makes education a priority. In this facility, the girls learn skills that will help them find useful employment.Keep Girls Safe is headquartered in Chiang Rai in an old, former office building that is home to approximately 30 girls at a time. These girls are usually at risk for several reasons: their families are poor; they’re not as valued as male children; there’s a danger of, or actual, sexual abuse; a stepparent may not wish to have extra children to care for; or perhaps the girl is an orphan. Education is a major component of the Keep Girls Safe program. Often, vulnerable girls will drop out of school because the family cannot afford to educate them, or they are needed for their earning potential.
MODERN-DAY SLAVERY: Sex traffickers purchase girls as young as 10, and poor hill tribe families sell their daughters as sex slaves for approximately $100.What does the future hold for Keep Girls Safe and for the girls of northeast Thailand? There are plans to expand the outreach, increase the number of girls being educated, build a permanent and more adequate residence in a rural area where girls can engage in more self-sufficient activities, and educate families and communities. Resources are limited, but vision, determination, and commitment are present on the part of the program staff, ADRA personnel, and donors who help to accomplish these dreams.