|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
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
The results of that meeting were as follows:
- An academic committee was elected to oversee the running
of the project
- Full support was given by the local police, social security
and regional education office
- 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:
- Opened a youth training centre in Rawai with a full-time
staff member in attendance
- Provided vaccine shots and clothing donations for the
children of illegal labourers
- Increased its network of volunteers to one hundred and
- Followed up on 4 cases of child abuse
- Hired a full-time administrative officer
- 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