THE JAMMED TRUE STORIES OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING BLOG
The aim of this blog is to uncover and present
Following on from the feature film THE JAMMED we intend to select a series of stories from those posted on this blog, and produce a dramatised series of short stories
THE JAMMED is a feature film inspired by court transcripts about sex slavery and deportation in
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Sunday, September 7, 2008
Thai Women Trafficked to Japan
A friend I knew from the market in Nakhon Sawan told me about the opportunity to work in factories in Japan. I had divorced my Thai husband when I was four months pregnant and now my son was three years old and I had to raise him by myself and was finding it difficult to make enough money. My parents asked me not to go, but I thought if I went for just one year I could make money for my family and son. I didn't realize what kind of work I was going to do until I was on my way to Japan, and I didn't realize I was in debt for 380 bai [3.8 million yen; US$26,000](2) until I arrived at the snack.(3) I was told by the recruiters in Thailand that I would work in a factory and would get fifty percent of my salary until my debt was paid off. I was angry and freaked out about my situation.
After describing the good job opportunities in Japan, Pot's friend introduced her to an agent in Bangkok who made the arrangements for her travel. First, he helped her obtain her travel documents. She applied for and received her own passport, but the agent took care of all of the paperwork and negotiations with the officials. Then he took Pot to get her Japanese visa. "The agent told me to go to a certain window at the visa section at the Japanese Embassy. I got my visa without anyone asking me any questions or having to talk at all because the agent filled out all the forms for me." The agent also gave Pot money for clothing, but Pot sent most of it to her family instead. The day Pot's visa arrived, the agent put her in a hotel room at the Central Hotel in the Ladprao area of Bangkok and would not let her go out. Pot recalled:
It was a big room and four or five other women going to work in Japan were also kept there. I was surprised to be locked up because I was not allowed any chance to say goodbye to my family, even over the phone. I heard the agents talking about the price for each woman being between 150-160 bai [1.5-1.6 million yen; US$10,000-11,000], but I couldn't really understand what they were talking about and did not realize that we were being sold into prostitution. I was feeling suspicious but still wasn't clear about what was going on. I stayed at the hotel for several days. During that time, I saw that if a woman did not get approved for a Japanese visa, then the agent exchanged her real passport for a false one.
Two weeks after her initial decision to go to Japan, Pot was put on a flight to South Korea with four other women from the hotel room and a Thai man nicknamed Dee. Dee told them which immigration officer to go to at the airport. "In hindsight I believe that the immigration officer at Don Muang airport in Bangkok knew what I was going to do in Japan better than I did at the time, as the officer was buddy-buddy with my escort and just kept smiling at me and the other Thai women as he stamped our passports." When Pot got to South Korea she was put in a room with fifty other Thai women and seven or eight men. "Most of the women were under twenty years old and from the north of Thailand. All fifty women were guarded, controlled, and watched by the men at all times. I knew that there was something wrong and began talking to the other Thai women there. This is where I learned that all of the women were going to work in prostitution, because some of the women had worked in prostitution before and knew that they were going to do so in Japan. I didn't know what to do. I just thought that once I got to Japan I would change my job immediately."
All fifty Thai women were put on the same flight to Narita airport, just outside Tokyo. The men who were accompanying them went through immigration control first, and then waited near the immigration officers to give explanations when needed. A few of the women were not allowed into Japan, but most were. From the airport, Dee put Pot and several of the other Thai women into a van with a Khmer woman named Chan, who was from one of the refugee camps close to the Thai border with Cambodia. Chan brought the women to Tokyo, and spent the next five days taking them to different places around the city. "Chan was trying to sell me and the others like cattle. Then, on the fifth day, a Thai woman bought me and took me to another woman named Chan in Ibaraki prefecture who paid 380 bai [3.8 million yen; US$26,000] for me. I had known since Korea that I was being sold as a prostitute, but I didn't realize until I got to the snack that this 380 bai that I was bought for was to be my debt."
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