Thai woman taps communications tools to escape from Bahrain brothel

A 30-year-old Thai woman used all her wits and knowledge of communications technology to help herself and nine other Thai women escape from forced prostitution in a Bahrain brothel.

From sending SMS messages, googling for websites to contact Thai police and reporters, to using the Google Earth three dimensional programme, Wadi (given name) employed all those tools after realising she had been duped by her friend who sent her a plane e-ticket to Bahrain, saying she could earn Bt50,000 (S$2000) by giving massage service for only 10 days.

Even though she had no experience of massage service, Wadi jumped at the offer, thinking of making a fast buck in an exotic land and as a good change from helping her mother sell groceries at their home.

Her friend also sent her an e-mail, which was a letter from the guarantor, a Bahraini man who identified Wadi as his girlfriend who would come to Bahrain to visit him.

On August 7, Wadi submitted the letter to the Labour Ministry at Suvarnabhumi Airport and her passage to Bahrain was cleared.

A man holding a sign with her name waited for her at the airport in Manama, Bahrain. She went with him and arrived at a six-floor building that looked like a hotel.

She was received by a Thai lady called Jeh Nung, who ushered her into the hotel, saying her friend was waiting upstairs.

Her dream turned into a nightmare when she saw nine other Thai women were crammed up in one small room with their personal belongings scattered all over the place.

She asked Jeh Nung the whereabouts of her friend but she was dealt a hard blow when the answer was she must have sex with clients or pay Bt100,000 for a plane ticket, food and lodging.

Wadi found out that two out of the nine Thai girls had been similarly duped but seven others had been in the sex trade and some had worked there for more than four years.

They were waiting for the fasting month of Ramadan to get over as clients stopped buying sex during the Muslim holy month.

Wadi thought she had 10 days to figure out how to escape. One day, Jeh Nung brought her and two other women out of the building so that a madam could have a look at them.

Wadi took the opportunity to observe and look around the place and saw the name of the building was Farif. She was allowed to buy a phone card but only Bt400 to make local calls. To call Thailand, she had to pay Bt100 per minute.

She connected to an Internet service on her phone and looked up Google for the name of the road and the building she was locked in via the programme Google Earth. She saw that the building was opposite the Embassy of France, and an office of Gulf Air, and Windsor Hotel.

Then she sent SMS messages to Thai police and reporters telling them where she was locked up. Some of them agreed to help and told her to wait while they coordinated with officials.

However, there was no palpable rescue effort while the end of the Ramadan month was approaching. Wadi decided to plan an escape with two others.

She told the guard they were going to dump garbage, leaving all their belongings behind to make them believe they would not escape.

When they got out of the room, they went straight inside the lift, came downstairs and sneaked out of the building through a water tank and ran as fast as they could to the main road to catch a taxi to the Thai Embassy.

They arrived at the embassy at 2am but the guard did not permit them to wait inside. However, luck was on their side as the Bahraini taxi driver took pity on them and dropped them off at a hotel and paid for the room - Bt2,000 - telling them not to come out or contact anybody.

They came back to the Thai Embassy in the morning and received help. Police also got the seven others out of the hotel.

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