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

The World
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.

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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.

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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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