Monday, May 5, 2003

The Nation

29 alien sex workers arrested in police raid

Police yesterday arrested 29 Burmese and Shan women in Chiang Mai and charged them with selling sex services, just 1.5 kilometres away from the city's police station.

None of the women had work permits or visas.

Acting on a tip-off, Chiang Mai police raided the two-storey Roemyen Cafe karaoke restaurant in the Chang Moi area of the cityjust before midnight on Friday.

Police said that they believed the women were duped into working for the restaurant but later forced to provide sex services.

Some of the women broke into tears after being arrested, saying that they did not want to be sent back to Burma to a life of poverty, police said. "Working in Thailand allowed them to make money which they sent back to their families. In Burma they were jobless and had no income," said Police General Suthep Detraksa.

"There are many sex places in Chiang Mai that hide behind restaurants and cafes. And it's not just Burmese women who work at these places, there are also Karen and other hilltribe girls," he said.

Activist Ben Sawasdiwat, organiser of Traf Cord, the northern non-governmental organisation working on the human trafficking issue, and who joined the police raid, said that the situation of human trafficking for sex purposes in the North was growing out of control.

This was mainly due to the economic problems in neighbouring countries, he added.

"In this case, we will force police to file a lawsuit against the restaurant's owner in order to stop the cycle of human trafficking, or at least decrease it," said Ben.

Police initially charged the restaurant owner Boonpan Thong-in, with sheltering illegal workers.

The Nation (Thailand) — 05/04/03

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Created: May 9, 2003
Last modified: May 9, 2003
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