When entering Thailand I had a fear of human trafficking. After watching various movies and documentaries about travelers being kidnapped and sold into the sex trade while overseas I was very nervous, especially being in a country that was not English speaking. My first journey in Thailand without a professor was in Chiang Mai, a heightened anxiety about the people around was enough to make me think going outside alone again wasn’t going to happen for the rest of the trip. Much to my relief a seminar on human trafficking was on the agenda. Human trafficking is an especially heinous crime in my eyes. Stealing someone’s ability to control what happens to their body whether that is by force or psychological manipulation is a tragedy I’m not sure one could ever recover from.
The most surprising part of this lecture was that most men and women in the sex trade are not forced by violence, only psychological manipulation. These victims are held by the pimps or owners of the brothels because of an overwhelming amount of ‘debt’ that is accrued in many different ways. Some of these victims are underage and their parents have sold them beginning the amount of debt that they need to work off. What my biggest question was after listening to the lecture was what was so important about leaving behind a debt? If I was being held against my will I could care less how much of this so called debt was mine that I would need to work off. Escaping would be my only state of mind. I then started thinking about the Thai people that I have met so far, after learning a little about the culture I see that they highly value morals and the idea of ‘doing the right thing’ when it concerns people. So I draw the conclusion that maybe they are able to be bound by psychological means because of this cultural responsibility to do right by people. But that means even if they have wronged you, so if you escape before you pay off your debt in a sense you’re stealing from them. This theory could be completely off base but it has registered to me and will be something to continue looking into