My sex trafficking feature was published today on Metropolis. Metropolis is a weekly with a super-short production schedule, so some edits got omitted, which sucks. (e.g. Graf 2 says Bua went to Japan to be an entertainer, but later in the story we say she realized she’s not going to be a waitress.)
Instead of finding a current trafficking victim to profile, which would pose problems of safety, anonymity, censorship, etc., I wrapped the feature around the true story of Urairat Soimee, who died last year after a harrowing experience of being trafficked and forced into prostitution in Japan. I used to work on sex trafficking reports with the Asia Foundation while doing my MA, so I wanted to just get the important issues out there. Here’s the intro:
Bua* was getting desperate. Ever since her husband was maimed in a car
accident, the farm they owned in their small village in the Lom Sak
province of Northern Thailand was shorthanded. Unable to afford even
the most basic daily provisions, Bua started to depend on her extended
family to support her three children. But she knew that arrangement
couldn’t last forever.
Then, one day,
Joe appeared. An older man with a daughter who was good friends with
Bua’s mother, Joe offered her an opportunity she couldn’t afford to
turn down: a job as an entertainer in Japan. Bua didn’t know anything
about Japan but, right now, her family could really use the money. The
decision to leave them in favor of work was hard to make, yet the
promise of a better future easily trumped the desire to stay.
She didn’t know it yet, but Bua had just signed herself up for a trip on the human trafficking highway that would ultimately land her in prison.