Monday, July 14, 2008

Education Chips Away at Human Trafficking


By Mirko Testa

ROME, JULY 10, 2008- The education of would-be victims is one of the keys to putting an end to human trafficking, affirm religious
women working against this crime in Thailand.

Thailand is again at the Tier 2 level in this year's U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, released last month. Tier 2 is assigned to those governments that are "making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance" with the minimum requirements to eliminate human trafficking.

The Southeast Asian nation passed a tougher law against the practice this year -- though enforcing it despite corruption problems among the police is expected to continue to be a problem.

ZENIT spoke with three religious
women who are chipping away at the issue from a different side: preventing would-be victims from falling into this modern form of slavery.

They say the key is education.

Sister Anurak Chaiyaphuek, of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, said that women religious in Thailand "have been making untiring efforts to prevent […] children from falling into an abyss of abuse by carrying out our mission among them."

"What we have done so far is founding schools based on national compulsory education in remote areas or up high on the mountains and opening centers for small children and students who have accomplished compulsory education to pave ways for their further studies in the government's public schools in the cities," she explained. "It is our hope that our children will have opportunities to acquire more knowledge and be adorned with spiritual and cultural formation."

Sister Chaiyaphuek spoke of how the religious live with the youngsters, "penetrating their culture and understanding their backgrounds and conditions, helping them in words and in deeds."

"We teach curriculum of life, which we consider rare and invaluable," she said. "Above all, it is a blessing for us."


Traffickers based in Thailand lure people in from poor, neighboring countries, such as Myanmar. It is also a hub for these modern-day slaves to be transported to other destination countries. Trafficked human beings are forced to work in a variety of often-dangerous jobs, or exploited sexually.

Sister Kanlaya Trisopa of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Bangkok told ZENIT about a school founded after 15 girls almost ended up locked in the trafficking trade.

"They were luckily saved because the job agents were [put] under arrest," Sister Trisopa said. "We were contacted by the police to take care of those girls, otherwise, they would be sent back to their parents.

"Realizing their fate and knowing that they would soon be victimized again, we didn't hesitate to lend them a hand. We discussed with the girls and their parents and offered our assistance. Some chose to return home with their parents, while others decided to stay with us.

"We pledged to give them vocational training with the hope that they would be self-reliant and able to support their family."

The sisters implemented a curriculum of sewing and handcrafts and a small school was born.

"We felt relieved and happy that they didn't have to seek jobs in the cities and risk potential dangers of human trafficking," Sister Trisopa said.

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