Dan Seaborn: Rescued women in Thailand

Dan Seaborn

A member of our Winning At Home team recently traveled to Thailand on a mission trip.

She went with a organization known as Women at Risk, International, whose mission is to provide circles of protection around women and children who are at risk simply because of their gender. This could involve sex trafficking, honor killings, incest or rape to name a few.

The purpose of this particular trip was to visit safe houses in Bangkok, where women rescued from the sex industry are discovering a new way of life. She shared with me how she learned that the Thai culture plays a significant role in the sex trade.

It has to do with family responsibility, which of course strikes a chord in me. In Thailand, the daughters in the family are expected to financially care for their parents. This is countercultural to us in America, where parents will take steps to prepare for their own financial needs and retirement. In Thailand, women are expected to fill that role. This happens primarily in the villages, where poverty reigns.

Uneducated and without any viable skills, these girls are strongly encouraged at a very young age –– sometimes pre-teen years –– to enter into the sex trade as a way to make a decent living and fulfill their obligations. They are usually pushed into it or sold into it by their parents.  While most boys go to school, if there are no daughters born in a family, a son is chosen and forced to become a transvestite, and then he is pushed into or sold to a brothel.

Even when they aren’t sold, the girls are often coerced into feeling as though this is the only way to meet their family’s needs, and in most cases, I am referring to basic needs like food and shelter. Sex trafficking is not about sex as much as it is about power and money, preying upon those in poverty.

It’s easy to speculate that you would never sink so low as to trade your body for a hot meal or trade your self-worth for a warm bed. But if you’ve never been tested to that degree, it’s hard to pass judgment. Plus, remember it is the moms and dads or extended family members telling these young teens and pre-teens that it’s the right thing to do.

That’s hard for a 12-year-old girl to dismiss when everyone she trusts and loves is saying it’s OK. In America, we encourage young girls to save their virginity for a future spouse, while in Thailand, they’re encouraged to save it for the highest bidder! Whole villages celebrate the selling of one’s purity.

It’s easy to see by this example how important it is to develop the right culture in your own family. The influence parents have over their children is strong, whether that influence is positive or negative. Be sure you are developing a culture of forgiveness, encouragement and love.

This staff member listened to some of the rescued girls tell their stories. She said it was obvious by their tears that these women were flooded with guilt and shame and were drowning in worthlessness. Some of them can never return to their families because of the disgrace they’ve shown by running away from their obligations.

Even though people from another country look and sound different from us, she told me she learned that we all share the same dreams, and one of those dreams for these women in Thailand is the desire to win at home.

Dan Seaborn is a non-denominational Christian evangelist and a published author of such books as "The Necessary Nine: How to Stay Happily Married for Life!" He is the founder of Winning at Home Inc., a ministry that focuses its attention on the relationships between a husband and wife and between parents and their children.