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Child Watch

Buying chewing gum and flowers from children only ensures that they'll be made to work until 04:30 every morning.
No matter how big their eyes are and how sorry you feel, its kinder not to buy.
Childwatch - Phuket

BACKGROUND

Thailand has seen a great economical and technological surge over the past decade. The result has been that the rich have become richer and the poor, poorer. The victims of such a disparity are, as always, the children - child labour; child prostitution; and sexual abuse by adults results from the race for money and child abuse by parents is a result of the frustrations of poverty.

Prince of Songkla University, Phuket became involved in the concerns of abused children after one of its foreign teachers was convicted of sexually abusing young children. These 7 to 11 year old Sea Gypsy boys were easy prey for foreign paedophiles because they craved affection in a loveless society and were abjectly poor.

The local legal, social and educational systems although well meaning, were painfully inadequate to help abused children in the province. It was only through intervention from outside that the above case was prosecuted at all and the follow up is still grossly inadequate. Local people do not report cases of abuse because there is no channel for such reports and most residents are wary of contact with the authorities. There was a glaring need for a local community group to co-ordinate with the authorities and provide help for children in need.

TARGET GROUPS

Although the original aim of the organisation was to curb the onslaught of local and foreign paedophiles, after a meeting of educationalists at the University in November, it became obvious that the target group was much wider that that alone. There were two areas which particularly concerned us.

  1. Child Labourers: In Phuket a number of children of migrant workers, who have no right to attend a school, are working on building sites alongside their parents. There are also children being used as "sympathy salespersons" by their parents to get donations from tourists, many until the early hours of the morning.
  2. Sex Workers: In Thailand there are a large number of sex-for-sale outlets. Many of these employ, and in some cases, enslave young children for their customer's pleasure. In some cases, these children are sold to the brothels by their relatives or tricked into working in the sex industry by pimps who offer jobs in restaurants in the city.

We are also very concerned about parental abuse and are determined to find ways to help the victims.

PLAN OF ACTION

Following the meeting in November we had the names of about thirty local people who had volunteered to help the Child-Watch Phuket Organisation. A plan was laid to acquire a mobile telephone which could be used as a hot-line to report cases of abuse of children. A date was then set to train the volunteers in how to react to various cases and how children could best be helped. A second meeting was called to which representatives of local Government administration and community groups were invited.

The results of that meeting were as follows:

  1. An academic committee was elected to oversee the running of the project
  2. Full support was given by the local police, social security and regional education office
  3. It was agreed to find funding to hire a full-time project officer; buy an office computer; a telephone; stationery and provide printing costs.

By August 1996 the organisation had:

  1. Opened a youth training centre in Rawai with a full-time staff member in attendance
  2. Provided vaccine shots and clothing donations for the children of illegal labourers
  3. Increased its network of volunteers to one hundred and ten people
  4. Followed up on 4 cases of child abuse
  5. Hired a full-time administrative officer
  6. Set up classes for migrant children

The Project also needs MONEY

If you are willing to donate and help us please contact us -
Child Watch, Building 3, 3 rd floor, Phuket Campus, A. Kathu, Phuket 83120
Tel: (076) 202 559, Fax: +66 76 202 559
E-mail: C/O childwatch-phuket


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