Subject: [cwj 112] Thai women
From: Richard Wilcox <>
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 20:21:59 +0900
Seq: 112

From: Human Rights Watch <>
Subject: Thousands of Thai Women Trafficked to Japan
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 08:04:45 -0700
X-Topica-Loop: 700000880
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Thousands of Thai Women Trafficked to Japan
Japanese Government Unresponsive, Says Report

(New York, September 21, 2000) Thousands of Thai women are "trafficked"
every year into Japan, where many of them endure slavery-like conditions
in the Japanese sex industry, Human Rights
Watch said in a new report released today.

According to the 227-page report, "Owed Justice: Thai Women Trafficked
into Debt Bondage in Japan," the women are typically promised lucrative
jobs by traffickers in Thailand, but arrive in Japan to find themselves
trapped in "debt." To repay these exorbitant
sums - usually US$25,000 to US$40,000 - they must work for months, or
even years, without pay, under highly coercive and abusive conditions.

Japanese officials have publicly expressed their concern for the
victims of trafficking. But over the course of a six-year investigation
in both Japan and Thailand, Human Rights Watch found that the Japanese
government has taken no concrete steps to stamp out the practice.

"If the Japanese government is so 'concerned' about the problem, it
should do something for the victims instead of just talking about it,"
said Regan Ralph, Executive Director of the Women's Rights Division of
Human Rights Watch. "It is high time to stop the rhetoric and start some
serious law enforcement."

The report says that employers decide when a debt is paid, and until
then, they control the women's movements both on and off the job. Some
women told Human Rights Watch researchers that they had been "sold like
cattle" and described video cameras and motion-sensitive lights that
monitored their movements at work and at home.

In most cases, trafficked women are compelled to work off their alleged
debts as bar "hostesses" who accompany clients to nearby hotels to
perform sexual services. Given the coercive conditions of their
employment, the women cannot refuse clients who are physically abusive,
nor can they negotiate safer sex or get access to medical care without
their employers' permission. The report says that some women were also
beaten by their employers for "disobeying" orders.

Some women escape, but most endure these hardships until their employers
release them. Most of them do not speak Japanese. They have had their
passports confiscated by their employers, and have been threatened with
violence if they try to flee.

"It's not hard to see why these women are reluctant to seek assistance
from authorities," said Ralph. "They know that as 'illegal aliens' and
'prostitutes,' the best treatment they can hope for is summary
deportation, while authorities turn a blind eye toward the abuses
they've suffered at the hands of their traffickers."

The Thai government has undertaken significant efforts to prevent
trafficking and provide services to victims. But the Human Rights Watch
report says that the enforcement of Thai laws and policies
 against trafficking has been weak, and, in some cases, has resulted in
violations of women's right to freedom of movement and travel. The
assistance for victims does not include any effort to facilitate
trafficked women's access to justice in Japan. And while the Thai
government helps repatriate women who can demonstrate Thai citizenship,
other women are left stranded in Japan, living in legal limbo and
separated indefinitely from their families and friends.

The report notes that both the Japanese and Thai governments are
participating in the drafting of a United Nations anti-trafficking
protocol that will influence governments' response to trafficking in
 persons worldwide. Key provisions that will determine the nature of
that response remain under dispute. The negotiations resume next month,
and Human Rights Watch calls on the Japanese and Thai governments, as
well as all other participating states, to ensure that the protocol
includes strong provisions for the protection of the human rights and
physical safety of trafficking victims.

The report can be found at:

For more information, please see:

Campaign Against the Trafficking Of Women and Girls

Beijing +5: Stop Violence Against Women Now


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