BANGKOK, Thailand – The pop music blares from the speakers situated on the steamy and seedy Patpong Road: “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster.”
“Oh, that is so ’80s,” says Mylee, a pretty 24-year-old Thai prostitute from the city of Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. Mylee has perfect teeth, long, flowing jet-black hair and a graceful manner that belies her social status. She once studied to become a veterinarian at a Thai university, but the 1997 Asian financial meltdown forced her family into bankruptcy and destitution.
For Mylee, life – as it is for so many Thai women – is anything but a fairytale, yet her lot is better than many of the women and children caught in the no-man’s land of Southeast Asia’s human-flesh trade. It is a trade that includes not only sex, but pedophilia, human slavery and even organ harvesting.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Mylee told WorldNetDaily. “It seems at times as though there isn’t a single decent man left in the world. I thought that men were supposed to protect women and children, not exploit them. Even the men in the white hats sometimes are hiding black hats and even blacker hearts underneath.”
Mylee’s point is underscored by the fact that a Thai police lieutenant colonel from Lumpini recently was charged with the repeated rape of a 12-year-old girl. The officer faces 20 years in jail. In response to increased crimes against children, Thailand’s Cabinet recently endorsed a plan to recognize international laws established by the Hague convention on child abduction, child-related crime and adoption.
“People are bought and sold – children, too,” Mylee said over a meal.
“Phom dii-chan kin jeh,” she said sheepishly. “I am a vegetarian.” Mylee spoke while sitting down for a plate of “yam wun sen,” a kind of noodle salad.
“Even the elephants don’t have a place to go. They are Thailand’s national symbol, and we don’t have a game reserve for them. I love animals,” she added.
Mylee doesn’t earn a great sum of money for her services, but what she does manage to save helps her family back in Chiang Rai.
“I have three little sisters, and if it weren’t for this, they wouldn’t eat. I worry about AIDS. But you know, the sex trade is ancient. It goes back to the beginnings of human history. I am but one brick in that long, unbroken wall of female exploitation and misery.”
Why does she stay with the sex-trade game?
“I can tell you that my body is hard currency,” she explained. “Men want certain types of skin color, a compliant attitude. Submission and curves. But there aren’t really any reasons anymore. There are only tears.”
Thai and other Southeast Asian women are popular with men seeking sex. The zoos of Patpong Road and Soi Cowboy in Bangkok’s red-light district are filled with them. The light-skinned Thais from the north of the nation – ethnic Mongolians and Tibetans – are preferred over the darker-skinned girls from the ethnic Muslim and Malay south. Indo-Aryan women are too thin for most men, which precludes sex slaves coming to Thailand from poor countries like Bangladesh. In India, exotic women from the Himalayas are brought to Calcutta and other cities for their own perceived standout qualities. Islamic nations like Malaysia (and to a much lesser extent, Hindu Nepal) officially frown on the sex trade in Asia, while “Christian” and Buddhist nations like the Philippines and Thailand tend to turn a blind eye to it.
Though nations like Sweden have recently refused to legalize prostitution, in Thailand it is a sort of national pastime on the scale of Amsterdam. When the transnational military exercise Cope Tiger 2002 brought 1,100 foreign troops to Thailand – including many American soldiers – the Thai government’s Interior Ministry enacted special legislation to help the soldiers enjoy Thailand’s sex industry. The 2 a.m. closing time for most bars was extended, and sex workers and others involved in the industry were warned against raising prices.
“Don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for the children, for they are most at risk,” Mylee said.
Indeed, child rape, an epidemic in South Africa, is spreading like a wildfire into Southeast Asia. Cambodia’s child sex slave industry is globally famous. In communist Vietnam, over 3,500 child rape cases have appeared in courts since 1998. The Vietnamese government has released figures showing that in some regions of the nation, between half and 90 percent of sexual crimes and abuse occur against minors.
Throughout Southeast Asia, it is estimated that some 300,000 women and children are involved in the sex trade. They work in border towns between Burma and China, or even on the streets of Bangkok. Some are ethic Chinese nationals seeking a better life in Southeast Asia. They have no money, and many have lost their families – or have been sold off by them. They march through malaria-infested jungles in Laos and Burma and then ride in cramped vans into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There pimps and other shady characters bargain for their ownership and services (between $2,000-$4,000, say Thai authorities), while expecting nothing less than full allegiance. Some women will be traded as much as seven to 10 times between pimps and criminal gangs.
Dr. Marcel de Boer, a Dutch physician with the French group Medicine Sans Frontiers told WorldNetDaily that he often confronts women and child sex rings during his travels around the Laotian, Cambodian and Burmese countrysides.
“Make no mistake. This is human slavery. The pimps are animals, but they are smart. The whole operation – at least what I can see of it – is run with a kind of military-style precision that’s scarcely believable,” de Boer said.
“Some of the women are just outright kidnapped. Some are sold off by their parents and relatives. Some are orphans. The lucky ones will find work on farms and perhaps in factories. Most of them – especially the pretty ones – will be trapped in the sex trade. It is a known fact that the most light-skinned and exotic of these girls will be shipped as far away as Tokyo and Cape Town.”
For Mylee, it appears that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
“I had such dreams,” she laments. “I wanted to devote my life to helping to save all of Thailand’s elephants. I wanted to help all animals, but now I am treated like one. If you pray, remember Mylee in your prayers.”