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A Light in the Darkness

Few of the women working in Thailand’s sex-trade have arrived there by choice. The most modest of these scenarios is that they can’t get any other work, the worst; that they were sold by their own parents.

The sex slave trade continues to be one of the most lucrative in the world and in Thailand it draws 60% of its male visitors. Women who earn an average of $200 Australian dollars per month are forced to sleep with 10 men a day on average, begging the question raised by local volunteer, Alex, “Define rape…is it rape if it’s paid for?”

In the city of Bangkok, many women face the same torment daily and wake to a future that holds no hope of change. The authorities, the only people that might be able to help, turn a blind eye due the profits the industry is bringing into the country. One of the small towns in Bangkok, Patpone, is alone home for around 4000 prostitutes. Physical abuse and bashings are often a part of the experience and sexually transmitted diseases are rife. Every two weeks prostitutes are required to have a health check in order to get a certificate that shows they are free from STDS – however, these certificates can be easily bought on the black market.

But in the shadows of despair and desperate hopelessness shines a beacon of hope. Formed over 20 years ago Rahab Ministries have stood side by side to help women enslaved in the sex industry. Rahab empowers women who leave the bars with new life skills.

Sarah is a volunteer from New Zealand, she said that at least 20 women in 2008 have been rescued from prostitution. “Many of the girls are poorly educated and poverty stricken” says Sarah. “They turn to prostitution to make money. Just two weeks ago we ‘bought’ eight girls…we buy the rights to have them. It gives them a little breathing space and an opportunity to talk freely”. Sarah’s husband Alex who is also a volunteer expresses his concerns. “This is a huge blot on God’s creation. These guys don’t get away clean either…It certainly isn’t good for your spirit and well being…I feel really sad.” He says.

Rahab Ministries offers free accommodation, employment, skills in jewellery making, language courses, computer skills and hair and beauty training. These life skills enables these women to feel empowered and confident in the knowledge they can move forward to a brighter future.