Phuket human trafficking victim now safe in children’s home
PHUKET: The Cambodian child who literally ran to the safety of Phuket officials to escape her life as a human-trafficking victim and being forced to beg on the streets of Soi Bangla is now safe in a home for children, Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukban confirmed to the Phuket Gazette today.
“We coordinated with all relevant departments immediately after she ran to me asking for help. She is now in a home for children and will be returned home [to Cambodia],” explained Mr Chairat.
The 12-year-old girl, given the pseudonym “Aoi”, ran to Mr Chairat and 10 other Patong Municipality officers during their night patrol of Soi Bangla on Tuesday and begged them for help.
The girl explained that she and some of her friends had been taken away from their parents under the pretense that they would be trained as nannies for high-society families in Patong.
“After we got here, the men forced us to steal tourists’ bags. We had to steal one or two times a night – they were always watching us, and if we didn’t steal something, we weren’t allowed to eat,” Aoi said.
“They said they would attack our parents back home if we did not do what they said,” she added.
“The men said anytime we see Mr Chairat we must run away,” she told Mr Chairat. “This time I decided to run to you asking for help. I want to go home. I miss my parents.”
Aoi had been arrested on Bangla Road many times. However, every time she was arrested, a Vietnamese man, claiming to be her father, would show up and claim her, explained Mr Chairat.
“Many Vietnamese and Cambodians are involved the alien-beggar scams, and we are sure that the group of men that were holding Aoi [captive] are Vietnamese,” he added.
Additional reporting by Irfarn Jamdukor
— Thawit Bilabdullar
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