Human trafficking has been included in the school curriculum in some schools in the northern province of Chiang Rai to prevent hilltribe girls from being lured into the flesh trade. The pilot project was launched with the support of the International Labour Organisation.
Mee-or Ayee, 17, an ethnic Akha girl in Chiang Rai's Mae Chan district, said she had learned quite a bit about child prostitution and forced labour in school.
Suthin Sorachart, a teacher at Mae Chan School, said the course had greatly helped ethnic students learn more about the problem and also how to protect themselves from human traffickers. Mae Chan School is part of the pilot project. ''First of all, we need to raise awareness on human trafficking among teachers because they are recognised as a major mechanism,'' Ms Suthin said.
The Mirror Foundation is also holding an eco-tourism project in four hilltribe communities in Muang district of the northern province to combat human trafficking. Project manager Parisutra Suthamongkol said the project is to prevent hilltribe people from migrating to the cities and ending up becoming victims of human traffickers. Besides, city people who visit the villages will also have a chance to learn about hilltribe cultures.
Chiang Rai governor Amorphan Nimanant said his province has become a major transit point for human trafficking because of its location as it borders Burma and is also very close to China, where human trafficking is rampant as well. ''More importantly, people were still poor, deeper in debt, and had no access to proper education, which would only worsen the situation,'' he said. However, the province is determined to suppress the problem, he said, adding that a network has been set up to fight it.
Dussadee Chantraka, head of home care for trafficked children in Chiang Rai, said education should help solve the problem. ''Every anti-trafficking organisation tries to educate the youths to live their life with a sense of pride, rather than with the financial ambition,'' she said. The network urged the police to keep a closer watch on the trafficking routes such as Bor Kaew in Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district, and Luang Nam Ta, Bor Ten, and Bor Harn in Laos.
Adapted from: "Course to save hilltribe girls from flesh trade" Bangkok Post. 8 May 2007.
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