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Thailand

Global Recession Boosts Child Prostitution and Trafficking

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is booming in Southeast Asia, with governments failing to do enough to protect young people, experts say.

"The recent economic downturn is set to drive more vulnerable children and young people to be exploited by the global sex trade," Carmen Madrinan, executive director of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual purposes (ECPAT), said.

Audio Slideshow: Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Thailand

Deena Guzder, for the Pulitzer Center

Thailand is often called the "Land of Smiles" and considered a tropical paradise full of friendly, spiritual locals eager to share their unique cuisine and pristine beaches. However, Thailand's elaborate culinary feats and sun-washed beachfronts are not the only reason why the country has become the playground of the rich and elite of the world. Conservative estimates suggest that 10% of tourist dollars are spent on the sex trade.

A Move to Register Sex Offenders Globally

While the world's attention was focused on Phillip Garrido, who is accused of abducting 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 and holding her hostage for 18 years as a sex slave, three other alleged sexual predators were quietly brought back to the United States to face prosecution for abusing countless children in Cambodia. The horrifying ordeal of Garrido's victim is now well documented; however, the stories of an estimated 1.8 million other children worldwide who are forced into the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade every year remain largely unheard.

International NGO Warns Global Recession Will Increase Human Trafficking

In August 2009, ECPAT International released a global report on the trafficking of children for sexual purposes around the world. The global recession will only increase the vulnerability of children to traffickers, according to the new report. "The recent economic downturn is set to drive more vulnerable children and young people to be exploited by the global sex trade," said Ms. Carmen M. Madrinan, Executive Director of ECPAT International.

Two Southeast Asian Women, One Common Thread?

In Cambodia and Burma, Stephanie Guyer-Stevens says two female leaders embody the region's hopes for democratic reform: Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi and Cambodia's Mu Sochua.