Thai women tricked into sex work in Nigeria seek help

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand is on a mission to rescue a group of Thai women stuck in Nigeria who claim they were offered work as masseuses but forced into prostitution instead.

Last week, relatives of the women sought help from Paveena Hongsakul, who is a Thai women’s rights and children’s rights activist, ex-Minister of Social Development and Human Security, and founder of the Paveena Hongsakul Foundation.

The foundation was informed that 12 Thai women saw job advertisements on Facebook offering work as masseuses in Nigeria, with an attractive salary of 50,000 baht per month.

In May, the 12 women received their salary as promised, but in the second month, they were only given 21,000 baht, reports Thai Rath. They were told that if they wanted to make more, they would need to sell sexual services.

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Thai Rath reports that the masseuses were physically abused when they refused to sell their bodies, were detained against their will, and had their passports taken away.

However, the Royal Thai Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, said they found “no signs of abuse of detention against their will.” The company told the embassy the women could return to Thailand if they wanted to.

The embassy is helping to prepare documents so that the women can return to Thailand at the end of this month, according to Ambassador to the United States and ministry spokesperson Thanee Sangrat.

Four of the women already had plane tickets but no passports, so the embassy is issuing new ones. Five of the women had passports and plane tickets to Thailand already. One woman had a passport but no plane ticket.

Two of the women wish to stay in Nigeria. One, who has a passport, reportedly applied for a different job in Nigeria. One of the women wants to stay with the original employer.

Two of the women are from Kalasin province, four are from Khon Kaen province and two are from Nong Bua Lamphu province, all in northeast Thailand.

Paveena said that she has dealt with 115 cases of sex trafficking of Thais in foreign countries this year in Cambodia (36), Bahrain (19), Nigeria (12), Myanmar (11), Dubai (ten), the Philippines (eight), Oman (five), Korea (three), Malaysia (two) and other countries (nine).

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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