Thai award-winning anti-trafficking activist urges action by all

The internet and social media are increasingly being used to lure children into sexual slavery, but also can be used more effectively to educate children and prevent them from falling into the grip of traffickers, said Weerawan Mosby, who was honored earlier this month by the United States Department of State as one of eight activists who received its Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award.

“Technology is the double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be a tool used by traffickers to prey on innocent children, but on the other hand, it can be the easy-access platform to educate people about this problem,” said Weerawan who founded and directs HUG Project in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

The Thai government has made the fight against human trafficking a national priority, and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has vowed to continue to push for improvements.

Despite the need for improved results, many Thais are working with extreme dedication to end trafficking. The State Department recognized that fact by awarding Weerawan its Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award.

Six years ago she established HUG Project. The activist group works to prevent trafficking, protect children from abusers and traffickers, and restore children who have been victims of trafficking through counseling and therapy.

“Since my organization is better organized every year, we have come across more and more worrying cases of trafficking of children to the sex industry and cases of pedophilia. In the end, when facing these evil practices, we are all confronted with a choice: do nothing or do something.”

Weerawan and her team don’t limit their work to Chiang Mai. They provide assistance across the country for child victims and they closely cooperate with the Thailand Internet Crimes against Children unit of the Royal Thai Police to deter online crimes against children.

“So far, our organization has worked on 100 cases of child-trafficking, and around 30 cases have gone to court,” Weerawan said.

Prevention, however, is just as, if not more important than prosecution. “We are also trying to get schools to teach about how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of human trafficking and the sex trade, and we encourage schools to set up monitoring systems to find the students who are in trouble and to help them.”

With more Thais following Weerawan’s example, the Kingdom will undoubtedly turn the tide on trafficking in years to come.