Children and their mothers await their fate after being trafficked to Thailand for begging rings.
May 27, 2009: After last week’s dry spell for news about Vietnam and human trafficking, several reports have cropped up in recent days, all predictably sobering.
First, a May 26 account in the Pattaya Daily News spotlights one of the more visible but less remarked-on aspects of trafficking, that of child beggars. According to the Thai newspaper, police in the Pattaya area (long famed for its flourishing sex tourism) arrested a “gang of Cambodians from Vietnam” along with a Vietnamese national. The daily calls the ring of beggars a “dire case of human trafficking and child exploitation.”
While the identities of the victims are not elaborated on, the crime seems clear enough: trafficking in “young mothers with babies and children, aged between 4 months up to 15-years-old” to coerce them into begging from tourists.
A second article, this from May 24 in the New Straits Times, offers an account of a booming sex industry in Malaysia, and the role of trafficked women. The paper cites NGO sources as saying that as many as half of the 150,000 prostitutes in the country are from foreign countries including Vietnam.
“Many syndicates also operate phony maid agencies so they can bring in girls without the Immigration Department suspecting anything,” Aegile Fernandez, anti-human trafficking coordinator of local women’s aid NGO Tenaganita, told the paper. Tenaganita works closely with the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA).
No round-up of news on Vietnam and human trafficking seems to be complete without a report from the United Kingdom. This week, a May 27 article in the Edinburgh News reports that law enforcement officials have been targeting gangs of criminals from Southeast Asia who are operating drug factories.
The police sources say they are dealing with gangsters from mainland China, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and that the syndicates have links to human trafficking, among other crimes. It appears that these gangs arrange for illegal immigrants to be smuggled into the country before putting them to work on cannabis farms.