'Parents, sex tourists prey on children'

'Parents, sex tourists prey on children'

THAILAND - Child prostitution in Pattaya will flourish as long as the number of homeless children - both Thai and foreign - remains high and they continue to be exploited by sex tourists and parents who sell their children into the trade, says Human Help Network Foundation Thailand (HHN) director Kanjanas Memanas.

Despite a drop in the scale of child prostitution and other child abuse following police crackdowns and stricter enforcement of laws against human trafficking, child prostitution rackets now avoid scrutiny by servicing their clients on ships anchored off Pattaya beach or neighbouring provinces.

Rather than working via go-go bars as previously, children coaxed into the sex trade now roam the streets at night or shopping malls in the day and approach prospective clients themselves, Kanjanas said. In some cases poor parents introduce their children to clients.

There are around 25,000 street children, both Thai and migrant, known to the HHN in Thailand, with up to 2,000 of them based in Pattaya. There is also a large but unspecified number of children under parental care but suffering poverty, and thus at risk of being lured into child prostitution.

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