Boys Cannot be Baht

We went to Urban Light to learn about Child Safe, as well as human trafficking. Initially I thought we would learn of women being trafficked—kidnapped off the streets to become prostitutes and to never be seen by their families again. I quickly learned that this specific organization was not targeting women, but rather boys and men who are at risk or have already been trafficked. How can that be I wondered… for grown men to be trafficked?

We learned that these boys and men get introduced to the industry of sex trafficking by word of mouth. Friends and other associates would tell the boys and men of the opportunities that they would be making if they choose that route. The money that they would be making is far more than they could earn elsewhere.

Some might say that the solution to this problem is simple. That these boys and men should make a different choice. That they should chose to work, go to school, or work their way up the ladder another way. The answer however is not that simple, especially since there are so many different systems at play. When looking at the microsystem—one’s family, friends, neighbors etc., exosystem—rules and regulations that are set in place, and the macrosystem—the beliefs and norms of the society, we begin to see that the opportunities for these boys and men are slim. For one, school might not be the main focus for families as some are farmers or didn’t grow up in the education system—and their main focus might be helping the family in order to generate income. The income being generated a lot of times is not enough to sustain a family, let alone cover the expenses to put children through school. There aren’t laws or programs set in place to help these families in order for them to create opportunities for their children. As boys and men, especially those that come willingly or are brought over from nearby countries, they come to Thailand for better opportunities, but find that they’re unable to work because as foreigners there are more obstacles in their way (especially laws that make it hard to get a job). Or if they are able to work, their earnings might not be enough. 

What Urban Light does, is raise awareness and provide resources to help end sex trafficking. The resources that they provide include—classes and activities throughout the week, counselling (as these boys and men have gone through a deal of trauma), meals, space to sleep, bathrooms where they can shower, employment opportunity, they have a housing project, and Urban Light staff work with the boys and men to help them gain new skills. The slogan of Urban Light reads, “Boys cannot be Baht” (Baht is the Thailand currency. We say dollars, they say baht).

With many systems at play the solution to end sex trafficking is not simple, but Urban Light staff try to combat this problem by addressing the issue in different ways. Indeed, boys and men cannot be baht.

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