PHUKET TOWN: Early in the evening on Valentine’s Day, two girls from Lamphun Province near Chiang Mai told police they had narrowly escaped being forced into prostitution. The pair said they were tricked into traveling from their northern homes for work in a Phuket Town red light district by a husband and wife team who told them they would be waitresses in a restaurant. After discussing the offer with their parents, the women, aged 23 and 24, accepted it and were put on a chartered bus. The 800 baht per person bus fare would be deducted from their wages, they were told. Upon reaching Phuket, the bus driver asked the two to wait in the bus, telling them he was calling the restaurant owner to pick them up. Within moments, a man they understood to be the owner of the “New Restaurant” in the Phunphol area of town arrived and took them to two rooms, side by side but separate, where he told them they could rest. He began to talk somewhat about work, and asked them: “Do you want to receive guests or not?” The women told the police they did not fully understand the question, but that the ‘restaurateur’ refused to elaborate and left them to rest. They then went outside and made inquiries of local residents who said the building containing their rooms was occupied entirely by “service girls.” They were also told, they said, that, “Being sent to work as a ‘waitress’ means you are able to ‘receive guests’– that is, sell sex.” The girls then fled and asked police for help in retrieving their clothes. This was provided, and the duped duo then boarded a bus for home.
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