As we step into the next month of The 12-Month HOPP, we will continue to help out at the organization from last months HOPP as well as joining RakTeh to feed the homeless community on Saturday, August 18th.
This month, we’re focusing on bringing awareness to the growing industry in Thailand, that is the Red Light District.
A red-light district is an area where a concentration of prostitution and sex-oriented businesses are found. Areas in many big cities around the world have acquired an international reputation as red-light districts.
NightLight is an organization that builds trusting relationships with individuals in the sex industry, offering dignifying alternatives and helpful resources. Their programs provide assistance and intervention to both national and international victims.
City Light is a cafe that was set up by NightLight on the road of a large red light area in Bangkok, and it provides jobs and resources for women who want out of the sex industry.
A few weeks ago, we met with a lady who showed us around and talked to us about how NightLight works. She told us stories of women that she has worked with, and talked to us about the sad truth behind the red light districts.
Did you know that a large percentage of procurers are women? It’s often portrayed that they are strong men that take the women forcefully, which isn’t untrue, but that’s only a portion of ways that they get the victims. Many times, a woman will find someone in a small business or area, and talk them into coming with them to another country. They’ll tell them that they have an amazing job for them that pays three times the amount that they are currently getting paid. They often help them with the legal work and flights, as well as lie about what they will be doing once they get to the new country. Once there, it’s not uncommon for them to then say “Now you’re in debt to me, pay me back for all that I helped you with.”
Underlying behind that, is that often the procurers are in even more debt to someone higher up than them, in this case they’re often male. It has been found before that this pattern will stretch back and lead to someone being in debt to a gang or mob leader. The lady we met with has worked personally with a woman who was involved in that, but I’m not sure the statistics on how often that happens.
NightLight hosts outreaches where they go out to the bars along the Nana area, and they make friends with the women in the bars. They don’t force them to say or do anything, and often times don’t even tell them that they need to get out. The workers are well aware about what NightLight is, so if they ever want a way out, they can go there to get help. NightLight also holds what they call Beauty Shop, which is a time for them to help ladies get ready for the night, while talking to them and just being there for them. The people who run NightLight see it more important to make connections between the individuals, rather than trying to force them to stop what they are doing.
If women do come to NightLight looking for a way out and a job, NightLight is able to provide them with a few different job options, so that they may build their skill set and then eventually find a better paying job when they are ready. The ladies can work in jewelry making, t-shirt printing, baking, or barista-ing. There is an online shop if you want to look more at what they make.
Now, because a large portion of what NightLight does is going out into the bars, and the legal age here being 20, we aren’t able to join them directly. It saddens us, but we know it’s for the best at this point in out lives. So this month is all about bringing awareness to the sex industry and to NightLight.
We will be doing live music at City Light Cafe on the 24th of August, to try and create a more friendly atmosphere than the bars and loud music surrounding the cafe.
On the 25th of August, NightLight is hosting a medical night, which provides HIV testing and a few prevention injections for different diseases. It will be running until 1 in the night, and often times when they do this event, the staff is left with only junk food to snack on. So when we asked what we could do to help, despite our age, we were told that cooking food for the staff and for the ladies in the waiting room would be helpful.
We hope that this has informed you a little bit more about the Red Light district here in Bangkok, and that you’ll continue to follow along with us in The 12-Month HOPP.
If you would like to contact us, you can do so at the12monthHOPP@gmail.com or message us on our Facebook page.
-Much love from the HOPP team.