The rescued girls live in housing run by the Thompsons. They receive an allowance that partially compensates them for lost earnings. Many send portions of their allowances to family, which they used to do with their income from prostitution.
"One of our girls," says Bonita, "is in her senior year at a university, studying chemical engineering. She is currently interning with a company that expects to hire her upon graduation. Another is in her senior year in textile design and has been selected by one of the top designers in Thailand to work with him on a project."
At a recently concluded conference on women's rights in London, attendees were told that ever-younger girls are being forced into prostitution because of declining economic conditions in many parts of the world. The Straits Times reports that, according to The International Labour Organization, "About 21 million people ... are in forced labour, meaning they have been coerced or deceived into jobs which they cannot leave. ...
about 4.5 million of these, mainly women and girls, were victims of sexual exploitation..." Overall, cites the ILO, "...the human trafficking trade was estimated to be worth US$32 billion (S$39 billion) a year."
The Thompsons are doing their small part, though the numbers seem overwhelming at times. Think of these girls as someone's daughter or granddaughter and even though some of those relatives may have sold them, the message of love and self-worth sometimes breaks through, even in the red light districts of Bangkok.
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