A-team’s design thinking to tackle sex trafficking in Thailand

To come up with our security problem, we asked ourselves two questions. First, what is something that we care about deeply? We all are very concerned with human trafficking. We wanted to narrow it down to something more specific but something we still felt was extremely important. This led us to sex trafficking.

It was something that made us uncomfortable to even think about, let alone discuss; and that’s precisely why we chose it. It was something we saw as so vile, we wanted to live in a world where people won’t have to think about it as much. Further we wanted to narrow it down more so we can really come up with a focused solution by confining the scope so we decided to target Thailand since they notoriously struggle from this security problem. However this was not the only security issue that deeply concerned us but we chose to tackle the reduction of sex trafficking in Thailand because we felt like it was something that was not getting enough innovative attention to solve the issue. For this reason we felt like we had a good shot at(at the least) contributing to progress toward a solution through the design thinking process we’ve been learning to use to approach global security issues.

After coming up with our topic we discussed possible solutions in our group. However before coming up with methods to solve the problem we tried to understand it and why it was unresolved. Then we began to formulate solutions such as border control, stricter laws and more police involvement. In the end the main out-of-box solution that we finally agreed upon was legalization of prostitution. We also gathered information about the problem of sex trafficking in Thailand by talking to our class fellows, among which there were some Thai students who provided us with deeper information regarding the issue. One of the problems that prevent the reduction of sex trafficking are some of the officials that are corrupt and benefiting from the booming business also the foreigners who come to Thailand are often sex tourists that are the main customers. Furthermore, Thai cultural has a large gender divide and girls are considered a burden and the topic of prostitution is considered taboo preventing the issue from being discussed let alone solved. Some of the conventional solutions that we obtained from the class were government intervention such as raids and better welfare. Secondly increase awareness through advertising so people can report via hotlines and establish help centers. One of the most frequent solution put forward was provide more jobs and education.

By all the documentaries that we have found there are some good stories to help us on understanding our topic more clearly. There are about 200000 sex worker in Pattaya over the population of around 1000000(2017) that is just a part of Thailand which means that a lot of woman are working as prostitutes. The main problem is that at least 4000 of them have been trafficked and working against their will. Moreover there aged 10-16 years old which is very young to work in this dangerous job. They have faced many problem such as health problem and disease because they have to drink a lot everyday, do not have enough sleep, smoking and so on. Besides they also get raped without receiving any money, even though they work as prostitutes they get tricked and they are afraid to ask for money especially with the foreign guest, and they even fight with each other just to get the customer.

Another documentary has shown that Thailand women from the countryside come to the city to work as prostitutes just because they want to have a foreigner husband in order to transform her life from poor to better while some women are sold by their parent because they are too poor also in debt. Other women just do it as a part time job which seems normal to them and their parents even know about it, they just want to earn extra money. With all of this happening, it become a big concern if the government does not care about it even though we know that prostitution in Thailand is illegal but it seem like public and everyone know about it even though no one likes discussing the increasing  problem.

Furthermore, another documentary titled ‘Thailand Documentary – Human Trafficking & Prostitution’ describes how underground prostitution works. It was run by group of notorious and armed gangsters. In order for them to recruit women to work in their brothels, they went to rural areas far from the city and kidnap some of the pedestrians or onlookers. Their main targets were mainly highschool girls, or much more worse, asking the poor families to sell their kids to them. Then, the victim will be transported to their workplace, locally worser, they were trafficked overseas with their heads covered, so that the chances of victims running away were low -since they did not know the route that they had taken. Then, they will be asked to work long hours with minimum rest.

On the other hand, another video we reviewed was different to what we watched so far. It is about a group of European missionaries spreading Christianity in Thailand. The way they did it is phenomenal, they were very friendly towards the locals, and offering them good hospitality, this includes playing with local kids and sending roses to people. The reason behind their actions was that they wanted to offer the Thais a new path -closer to Jesus, after being strayed far from Him. They also provide assistance for those who wanted to convert.

From an interview of a real Thai prostitute, we  learnt why people become prostitute, and how to reduce prostitution including whether legalizing prostitution would work or not.  30 years ago, majority prostitutes came from upcountry. They were uneducated and being forced by poverty because they had to support their family or pay debt. Nowadays, however, lure of materialism is the major drive of prostitution. Young girls become prostitute because they want to buy gadgets, iPhone, brand name products, cars and houses. When they see their friends have these things, they also want them for themselves. Also, some teenagers work as a prostitute to earn money for their tuition. If they stop prostituting after they graduate and get a job, it is no problem. However, many of them continue to work as prostitutes as a side job because they can earn more easily. In the worst case, they slip back to prostitute.

So how can we reduce prostitution?

Legalizing it may be one of the possible solutions. However, there are doubts if it will work or not  said it because some prostitutes don’t want to reveal to society that they are prostitute, they might not sign up to a system. Also, some officers wouldn’t be happy because they benefit from prostitution industry through under the table money and don’t want to lose that income. A suggestion put forward to reduce prostitution was to make a movie that portrays the life of a prostitute; what prostitutes go through, police, jailing and violence. In this way, people can learn how harsh prostitution is and it can lead to decreased prostitution.

Useful documentary films:

My Boyfriend The Sex Tourist: Thailand – Real Stories

Human Trafficking in Thailand

Walking Street: Pattaya,Thailand – Sex For Sale

Our Daughters For Sale

Sex Trafficking in Thailand