The extensive sex trade, focused in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Hat Yai, is profoundly embedded in Thai society. Millions derive income from this “industry”. Estimates – none of which can be verified – range up to 2.8 million who engage in sex work. Some claim 10% of all tourist money is spent on the sex industry. Pray for:
a) The girls involved (and the much smaller numbers of men). They are usually from poor, rural backgrounds and mostly from Isaan/the northeast, from ethnic minorities or from neighbouring countries, especially Myanmar. They are often sold into the sex trade by family members needing money or fewer mouths to feed. Their introduction into the trade can be brutal. Leaving can be nearly impossible due to “debts” owed to traffickers. Many others enter willingly, seeking an income higher than any other job would offer or the prospect of a rich foreign boyfriend or husband. All are at high risk of mistreatment and disease; all are in need of the redemption and unconditional love that Christ offers.
b) Those who profit from the trade. Those who exploit others for their own gain must be brought to task. Pray for corrupt police and officials, the traffickers, the Chinese-Thai mafia, owners of the establishments where the trade occurs, relatives who sell the girls into indentured sexual servitude. Pray for moral conviction to fall upon them. Pray for this wicked flesh trade to be brought to an end.
c) The users. Westerners and East Asians in their hundreds of thousands arrive in the country specifically or in part for sex tourism. Thai men who pay for sex outnumber both of these groups by far. Pray for blind eyes to be opened, and pray for the freedom these men also need from this vile practice.
d) The government, which officially states opposition to sex tourism, but does very little to discourage it. Billions are tied up in the trade, and there is little willpower in the government to disperse the tangled web of the sex trade and the billions it generates, directly and indirectly.
e) Agencies seeking to minister to those caught in the trade. Ministries such as Rahab and Nightlight work with prostitutes, providing care, counselling and vocational training for those wanting out. Many other groups work in anti-trafficking. It is a valuable and honourable battle, but a difficult one that cannot ultimately be won solely by “rescuing” girls or closing individual brothels.