The sex trafficking industry in Thailand is way more complex than you thought

The World

When I landed in Bangkok three months ago to start reporting on child sex trafficking for Across Women's Lives, I was amazed by how familiar everything felt.

The last time I was in Thailand (thankfully not in the south) was during the 2004 tsunami. I'd gone then not as a reporter, but as a tourist on vacation from my job as an ESL teacher in Japan.

To be honest, my memories of the north — where I did all of my reporting this time around — revolve mostly around extreme car sickness on the way to and from the Doi Suthep temple near Chiang Mai.

It's an absurd goal to try to understand and report on a complex issue like child sex trafficking in two short weeks, but that's what photojournalist Josh Meltzer and I tried to do.

For me, I wanted to get beyond vague condemnations of sex trafficking in Thailand to the stories of actual people in the industry.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to introduce you to some key players in the child sex industry in Thailand — a sex worker, a sex trafficker, an NGO director, a hill tribe village leader and lots of others.

It's easy to condemn the abstract concept of sex trafficking — it's much harder to condemn individual people and their livelihoods.

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