In the context of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, Thailand is a transit and destination country for men, women and children.
Thailand’s relatively high prosperity relative to its neighbors is attracting illegal immigrants from surrounding countries. This gives traffickers the ability to deceive or force people with no legal documents into slavery and sexual exploitation .
The smuggling is widespread and affects primarily women and children from Burma , Cambodia, Laos, southern China,and Vietnam for sexual exploitation in Thailand. A large number of people from Burma , Laos and Vietnam are smuggled across Thailand’s southern borders, but most of the people are taken in through the northern border region, mostly from North Korea and China through Laos.
Many ethnic minorities are smuggled into Thailand and on to Malaysia. Many who do not have legal residence are at high risk of being picked up by traffickers for further transport into Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Europe and the USA.
In the construction sector there are low-skilled construction workers who have been put into debt bondage and forced labor in Taiwan, the Gulf countries, South Korea and Malaysia.
In the fishing, construction and agricultural industries, domestic work and begging , it is mainly men, women and children – in that order – that are being subjected to forced labor.
Workers who come through Thailand often pay very high travel and recruitment fees to get jobs in richer countries such as Taiwan , Malaysia, parts of Europe and in the Middle East. This creates a debt that can take a very long time to repay and which leads to forced labor.
Children from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos are often smuggled into Thailand by established gangs, to engage in begging and in some cases sexual exploitation.
The fishing, construction and agricultural industries and parts of the footwear industry is heavily dependent upon undocumented immigrants from Burma and Laos, including children.
Thai government does not do everything it can to stop trafficking into the country. There are some efforts though, and the government developed a new comprehensive anti-trafficking law that took legal effect in June 2008.
Since then, a few raids have been conducted on the shrimp fishing industry which in one case, 270 people from Burma was found working under slave-like conditions.