All posts by Lindsey Rae Hodnett

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking
Nhia, Lindsey, and Anastasia

Human trafficking is a worldwide issue, however it is surprising how hidden the issue can be. As an American, living in a just society, one would think that human trafficking is an issue only a third world country would face. Like every country, the United States also struggles with the issue of human trafficking which includes sexual and labor exploitation. It is only within the last decade that the problem of human trafficking specifically around sexual exploitation has spark up conversation towards political change.

As we end our study abroad trip here in Thailand, I can’t help but think how similar yet different both Thailand and the United States are in terms of their approach towards ending human trafficking. (Nhia)


How are they being trafficked?
Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.06.09 PMEthnic minorities, migrants and stateless people are the most at risk of being trafficked in Thailand. Many trafficked victims come from neighboring countries such as Burma, Laos and China, often facing political persecution or poverty which can unintentionally put them in vulnerable positions for being trafficked. The transfer and exchange of trafficked victims are done primarily within the sub-region of the Mekong River. Trafficking gangs often collaborate with local law enforcements and businesses making it difficult to crack down on the parties involved.

Trafficked victims are invisible to the public. As tourist, we were not aware that children or adults were trafficked and or being exploited until our conversation with our tour guide, Eve. We were advised specifically not to give money to persons performing acts on the street that presenting a certain demeanor because we would be supporting the continuation of their exploitation. It is refreshing to see the level of awareness that multiple organizations are doing to address the problem with human trafficking. Since Thailand’s economy relies so heavily on tourist, part of problem are reducing the demand on sex tourism and cheap labor. (Nhia)


Human trafficking in the Golden Triangle
Human trafficking and sex trafficking have always been something of interest to me. This past semester I was able to learn about the topic in more depth through one of my classes. I was shocked at how close to home human trafficking actually is. I have always heard it can happen anywhere, but it has more of an impact when you can see it or hear about it first hand. It is most prevalent in other countries. What got me interested in human trafficking was a video I watched in my class about human trafficking in the Golden Triangle in Thailand. I was most interested in this topic because of my upcoming study abroad opportunity to Thailand. This is why I have chosen to write my blog about human trafficking and sex trafficking.

First human/sex trafficking is happening everywhere. I will be focusing on the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is distant from any urban metropolis. There are many poor families and the area is rural so there is a lack of education available. Due to this, many families are faced with financial issues. They become desperate and seek ways to provide for their families. Human traffickers will often visit this area with promising futures for daughters and son of the parents who are in need of money. They will usually say something about a better education in another country or a busy city. The parents see it as a win win situation because they are gaining financial stability and they believe their children are gaining a better future. This transaction is common and is unfortunately due to a lack of education and a lack of authority to supervise the area.

IMG_4605To bring it back to my class from last spring, I remember a video about an organization in Thailand that advocates for children who are in danger of being trafficked. In the first minutes of the video, it showed a silhouette of a man who was describing his first encounter with children who were offered to him for sex. He describes how a line of girls filled the room aging anywhere from 10-14. He also states that his friend had been before and continued to pick the same ten year old girl because she was a “nymphomaniac.” This was very disturbing. Coming to Thailand I have learned from P’ Eve and from our friend Maia, at a human trafficking shelter, that the sex industry here is manly used by older men and a lot of tourists come here for that attraction. It is known that human/sex trafficking is popular here because of the ages of the girls. Many pedophiles will come here in search of young men or women who are in the sex industry. In an article from they state thatEthnic minorities and women and girls from the northern Hill Tribes are especially vulnerable due to their lack of citizenship.” This is something we have heard throughout our time here in Thailand. I can’t help but ask, why there isn’t more supervision in the Northern parts of Thailand. I also believe more access to education can help raise awareness for this issue. (Lindsey)


Efforts to prevent trafficking and support victim/survivors
While staying in Chiang Khong, we were fortunate enough to be invited by a woman named Maia to visit the Center for Girls (CFG), IMG_4603an organization that works to prevent young girls from falling into the sex trafficking industry in Thailand. CFG–like the Chiang Dao School we visited earlier on our trip–shelters at-risk youth and provides them with education and their basic needs. The children are also able to stay in contact with their families back home. Maia said that CFG follows up with all of the girls who “graduate” out of the program, and it turns out that many of them go on to have jobs in the service industry and some even go on
to university. “We have a pretty good success rate,” she said with gentle pride.

In Minnesota we have some organizations, such as Breaking Free, that address sex trafficking as well. Breaking Free provides shelter, supplies, and support to victim/survivors of sex trafficking, works to eliminate human trafficking by educating the community, and campaigns to decriminalize victims so they can more easily escape and get help if they want it. During our visit to the Center for Girls, I wondered what it would be like to listen to a conversation between the staff from both organizations and hear them discuss human trafficking from different cultural lenses. It would be interesting to learn about their similarities and differences–in victories, strategies, and roadblocks–and see what sorts of inspiration they could draw from each other. (Anastasia)


It can be tempting for some people to assume that human trafficking only affects certain areas of the world, parts that are perceived to be less developed. However the truth is that it affects us all. While trafficking may vary in its visibility from place to place, the trauma of victims, their families, and communities have the same taste, no matter where they come from. The knowledge, emotions, and observations we have gathered in Thailand are applicable to the problems we face in Minnesota, and through this experience, I feel that we are in a better position to be able to serve and protect the people in our own neighborhoods. (Anastasia)

Blog Post #2

After experiencing so many things in one short week, one experience has stuck with me and created some conflicting feelings within me. The day I am talking about is our visit to the Mae Sa Elephant camp.

I was excited when we arrived to the camp because I had never seen an Elephant close up before, besides the zoo. I had preconceived notions of what to expect as far treatment towards the elephants. We had talked as a group before the outing about how it is inhumane to “ride” the elephants. I was under the impression that this camp did not take part in that. After seeing this taking place I was questioning the treatment of the elephants. I also had conflicting feelings because I was enjoying the time we got to spend with the elephants and realizing how lucky I was to get the chance to be that close to such a beautiful animal. 

For the most part, I think the treatment between the mahoot and the elephant was very gentle and warm. The mahoot grows with the elephant and they create a special bond together. They also took very good care of them as far as feeding them and bathing them. I liked being able to see them in the river because the mahoot bathed and scrubbed the elephant. They also were able to communicate with the elephants. It was amazing to see how smart the elephants were and what they understood. This helped ease some of the conflictions I was having during the outing.

However, it was very hard for me to know how to feel about the elephant show. The elephants were able to do so many things, but I kept thinking about them in the wild and how they would never be painting a picture. I remember feeling upset when the elephant closest to us was the last one there and his mahoot kept making him do more. I kept thinking that he had already done so much, and was one of the younger elephants. I also thought the whole experience was created for tourist. The whole day was surrounded around visitors and catering to them. The elephants knew how to pose, the show was put on to make people clap and pay money, sugarcane and bananas were provided for a price, even the “bath time” was scheduled so that people could watch. Again, all very unique and once in a lifetime experiences, but also not very realistic. I guess one could argue that any “elephant camp” would not be considered realistic, especially with a lense of wild elephants in your mind.

Overall, I am still not sure how I felt about it. I loved the experience and took pictures with the elephants like a tourist, but I left feeling unsettled about my prior knowledge to this experience.

lindsey blog 2

lindsey blog

Blog Post #1

  1.  I really enjoyed my experience at the Wat Temple because it really emersed everyone in the Thai culture. I was surprised by how welcoming they were to everyone and just how humble they were. I didn’t realize that their religion is so intertwined in their day to day lives. I have grown up somewhat religious, but my parents never practiced their faith. As I got older, they started to find it and I started to realize that religion wasn’t for me. The Wat Temple did not make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome and that made me feel even more invited. I also LOVED the food. I am a huge Thai food fan and really enjoyed getting to taste what authentic Thai food is like. I think this will definitely help me in Thailand because I will know what to order at restaurants. 

2.  A goal that I have for myself is to not hold back and truly embrace the unknown of this adventure. I never thought I would be doing a study abroad and that just makes it all the more special. I want to focus on each day and not think about whats going on back at home. I also want to feel connected to each city we visit and to the people that we meet.