Its handicrafts project making clay whistles, bags, handwoven scarves, bracelets and bookmarks provides local women with a safe work environment and an independent source of income. The increased popularity of peer-to-peer rentals facilitated by online services has raised concerns because of the lack of oversight. We ate lunch sitting cross-legged on colourful bamboo mats. The wooden drumlike tables were piled with food, including bowls with highland rice the staple of Akha cuisine and laab moo, which is minced pork. I had booked my trip on the Altruvistas website. I was on vacation, visiting Thailand on what was billed as an advocacy journey, one that, along with sightseeing, provided opportunities to learn about the sexual exploitation of children in a country known for sex tourism. The income they generate helps villagers build wells and send their children to school.
International arrivals have more than doubled since , and Bangkok is consistently ranked as one of the most visited cities in the world. By the end of , 38 of the countries in which the company operates more than 2, hotels had signed on to the initiative. The van driver left us at the bottom of a hill and we hiked along a steep dirt road, passing wooden huts with thatched roofs and laundry hanging over fences. But as travel increases, so does the risk to children of sexual exploitation by sex offenders. A handicrafts project run by a foundation in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, provides local women with a safe work environment and income. But unlike regular tourists, we knew the hardships these women faced, and I left the village grateful that I had contributed — however minimally — to the work of Ecpat-USA and the Thai groups we had met. After lunch, we saw the home-stay lodgings equipped with floor mats, mosquito nets and Western toilets. Scores of tribal people in the highlands lacked citizenship and had no access to education, health services or jobs that paid fair wages; children brought from Laos and Myanmar were begging on the streets; girls were being exploited in the sex trade and men were sold into slavery on fishing boats. Babies are not issued birth certificates and grow up stateless. I had booked my trip on the Altruvistas website. The foundation also has a large volunteer program, runs free schools and has established a scholarship fund for advanced education. But with the proliferation of the internet and social media, sex offenders are finding new methods for exploitation. An additional 10 per cent of the tour fee was distributed to the groups we visited. In partnership with Ecpat, AccorHotels, a French multinational hotel group, set up an employee training program in This was not a work-related meeting. The increased popularity of peer-to-peer rentals facilitated by online services has raised concerns because of the lack of oversight. The income they generate helps villagers build wells and send their children to school. He took us sightseeing in Bangkok — the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha — and to night markets in the northern provinces, but also doubled as a translator during our meetings with government representatives and aid groups. She spoke passionately, gesticulating with her hands, then waited as our guide translated her words into English. Thailand has long been a popular tourist destination. We learned that behind the ornate temples, polite smiles and colourful baskets of fruits and vegetables, there was a grim reality. An advocacy trip meant that instead of spending our days lounging by the pool between visits to tourist sights and attractions — although we did find time for some of that — we attended meetings with government representatives and local organisations involved in the fight against trafficking. While she talked, I recognised one she used repeatedly: Its handicrafts project making clay whistles, bags, handwoven scarves, bracelets and bookmarks provides local women with a safe work environment and an independent source of income. We were a diverse group of nine women: Soon we were all shaking hands, conversing with gestures and laughing, overcome by the power of humour to make friends in the most remote corners of the world. I was on vacation, visiting Thailand on what was billed as an advocacy journey, one that, along with sightseeing, provided opportunities to learn about the sexual exploitation of children in a country known for sex tourism.
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