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Running Head: Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children

Fight Red Light


Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children in Thailand
PSYCH 118B - Hoffman
Meghan Aguilar, Imelda Melchor, Analise Borgatti, Maritza Rodriguez, & Alice Yu
June 4, 2015

Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children


Executive Summary:
Commercial sexual exploitation of children in Thailand is a flagrant violation of human rights
that needs to be addressed immediately. We are Team Fight Red Light, and our great idea to
improve the lives of children who are involved in Thailands sex trade is to create a communitybased dance event. We aim to empower, educate, and break down stigmatization faced by those
in the sex trade. By spreading awareness at the community level Fight Red Light will be able to
aid the multifaceted problem of trafficking sexually exploited children in Thailand.

Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children

Context
The sexual exploitation and trafficking of children is a human rights issue requiring
international attention. Thailand is a center of concern for child sexual exploitation, where an
estimated 60,000 to 200,000 children are involved in the sex trade (Lau, 2008; Rafferty 2007).
Many trafficked children end up in Bangkoks Patpong district, one of the red light districts in
Thailand. These children end up in the Patpong district because of the pervasiveness of sex
tourism in Southeast Asia. Sexual tourism is when people travel to a country to pursue sexual
pleasures. Bangkok, Thailand is particularly vulnerable to sex tourism because it is a popular
tourist destination in a country where many are desperate for income. Child prostitution is an
issue of concern because of the psychological and physical trauma it causes to these children.
Many of these children are trapped in the sex trade due to poverty and lack of primary school
education. Children have the right to be protected from prostitution because they dont have
consent in that matter and they are potentially exposed to abuse and danger. The laws in place to
prevent and decrease acts that sexually exploit these children are grossly ineffective. Research
shows that the issue of child sexual exploitation and trafficking in Thailand is in need of effective
intervention.
Psychological and physical trauma
Sexually exploited children are especially vulnerable to the most damaging forms of
physical and mental abuse on a daily basis. The health of children who are trafficked and
sexually exploited is seriously compromised as children are physically deprived of food and
adequate shelter. According to Rafferty (2007), traffickers force children to be dependent on
them by not feeding them and denying them of basic rights. The higher levels of physical abuse
experienced by these children have been correlated to emotional problems, aggressive behavior,
substance abuse and suicide. Factors, such as engaging in unprotected sex, contribute to the

Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children

physical trauma and hardships of sexually exploited children. Unprotected sex gives them a
higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, which could potentially lead to death
(Rafferty, 2007). With conditions like these and the lack of basic standards of care, sexually
exploited children are subjected to life threatening situations.
Although some children may enter into the sex trade to due familial obligations, some are
trafficked away from their families and communities; therefore losing their systems of support.
Statistics show that children who have been sexually exploited and trafficked in South East Asia
experience psychologically damaging effects that may impede their development. Psychological
consequences such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, shame, Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), social isolation, and hopelessness are some of the affective problems they may
experience. Some children even turn to substance abuse to alleviate their psychological pain
(Rafferty,2007). Suicide is a common escape from the mental anguish caused by the trauma of
working in the sex trade. Because of these detrimental psychological consequences, it is clear
that something must be done to stop the sexual exploitation of children.
Legal Actions
There are international legal interventions against the trafficking of children. According
to Rafferty (2007), child trafficking and sexual exploitation goes against the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child by violating human rights that are guaranteed under
international law. Under this law, children are guaranteed the right to protection from harmful
influences, abuse and exploitation. However, child sexual exploitation and abuse is
underreported. When it is reported, the victims and their families are often criminalized rather
than the traffickers. State laws often contradict international interventions to help sexually
exploited children. State immigration laws, and laws against the commercial sexual acts the

Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children

children are committing may actually contribute to the problem. Sexually exploited children may
be arrested for violating state regulations and laws even though they are not of age to give
consent (Rafferty, 2007).
There has been a fight against child exploitation in Thailand for over a century. Child
prostitution first became illegal in Thailand for children under 10 years old in 1908. Later on, in
1930, the sexual exploitation of children over the age of 14 was made illegal (Rennell, 2004).
However, the laws that were put in place were ineffective. The sex trade remains a powerful
industry because it plays such a large role in the economy due to the high levels of sex tourism in
Thailand. By 1949, the first United Nations treaty was signed against sex trafficking. In
December 1996, the government-sponsored bill for the Abatement of Prostitution was passed in
Thailand to punish parents who sell their children into prostitution (Limpisawas, 1996). Many
were against the bill because it was viewed as going against the struggling poor who are simply
fighting for survival. As a result, the bill was not enforced, causing children to remain
vulnerable to exploitation.
Cultural Beliefs
Cultural and religious ideologies can be contributing factors to the sexual exploitation of
children in Thailand. For example, the concepts of karma and gaining merit are critically
important, and they are often used to justify prostitution in general. For example, it is sometimes
believed that daughters can gain good karma and merit by entering the sex trade to support their
families. Cultural attitudes regarding virginity also play a role in determining the severity of the
sexual exploitation problem in the country. In the northern region of Thailand, virginity is not as
valued as in the southern region, making prostitution more acceptable in the north than in the
south. In addition, the southern region of Thailand views women who are no longer virgins as

Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children

broken, and women who have taken part in the sex trade are seen as unfit to be anything other
than sex workers (Lau, 2008).
The concepts of filial duty and reciprocity in Thailand can also be a catalyst for children
to enter the sex trade. Respect for parents, elders, and ancestors is highly emphasized in this
setting, and relationships to these important figures become extremely significant to children. In
many communities, it is thought that children incur a debt of gratitude (bun khun) to their
parents (Montgomery, 2014). Given this information, children may feel the need to repay this
debt to their families, and if families are in need of extra income, children may enter the sex
trade as a way to help their families. Although the children may decide to enter the trade
themselves, there are other cases in which children are explicitly told to engage in prostitution to
help their families and they feel obligated to obey.
Poverty
Poverty is a huge problem in Thailand, especially in rural areas. According to Rafferty
(2007), a large portion of trafficked victims come from families living in poor communities that
lack economic and job opportunities. Jobs can be scarce and may not pay well enough for
families to live comfortably. The sex industry in Thailand is greatly intertwined with its
economy. Being a part of the sex industry can provide a higher salary than professionals in
medicine or engineering (Singh & Hart, 2007). Because many families are trapped by poverty,
they are more willing to send their daughters into the sex trade knowing that there is a high
demand for them. Children, especially young girls, who live in these conditions, are placed at a
higher risk for human trafficking because they are not given that many opportunities. When
compared to other forms of work that children may do, such as begging or selling treats to people
on the street, prostitution earns children more money and a greater ability to help their families

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(Montgomery, 2014). Therefore, many children may enter the sex trade willingly, keeping in
mind their debts to their families.
Education and Past Interventions
The frightening truth is that many children are unable to attend school because of their
impoverished community locations. While many children have to miss school to work in the
fields and help their families, some are forced to sell sex in order to have their basic needs met.
Begging or working in dumps is common for children, but the conditions are unsafe and
unsanitary for little reward (Montgomery, 2014). As risky as it is, working in the sex trade will
bring in larger sums of money for the child and family.
While the educational system in Thailand has considerably expanded over time, it still
contains many flaws, some more difficult to address than others. Before the introduction of the
Compulsory Education Act in 1921, education was mainly restricted to boys who attended
existing monastic schools in Buddhist temples. In the decade following, compulsory primary
education eventually elongated, reaching to about 80% of Thailand. In 1962, The Primary
Education Act made it mandatory for children to attend a minimum of seven years of primary
schooling. After the 1999 Education Act was passed, net enrollment rates for primary and
secondary schooling increased. Today, about 90% of children in Thailand will enroll in primary
school and about 72% in secondary school (UNICEF). However, a great majority will not finish
their education. Due to the learning decline in the last decade, it is important to address the
quality of the schooling facilities. According the the results of the National Achievement Test,
students (on average) are earning less than 50% on main subject tests (UNICEF).
Children miss out on education because they enter into the sex trade at such a young age.
Certain groups including girls ages five to 25 in poor, rural areas make up most of the

Fight Red Light Sexual Exploitation of Children

population at risk of sex trafficking. Similarly, little to no education puts one at even greater risk
(Samarasinghe & Burton, 2007). Many NGOs have used education to protect these vulnerable
youths by allocating their money into building schools, offering free literacy programs, and much
more. With access to education, children can learn about the dangers of the trade, further
schooling, job opportunities, and they can ultimately become empowered through their own
awareness. Based in Thailand, Thai Women of Tomorrow (TWT) is an organization that has
trained teachers to go into various villages and teach young people about the hazards of the sex
trade and the outcomes it is associated with. Many other NGOs including EMPOWER and Not
For Sale also provide educational resources to those at-risk as well as those currently involved in
the sex trade. The education provided here is an essential factor in protecting these children
from further exploitation.
Awareness and education can help prevent the dangers associated with sex trafficking.
Education can even serve as a protective factor for many children, however, it is not the only
one. Studies show that dance can be a tool for healing, coping, and growing. Dance can help atrisk children to increase their self esteem, motivation, social skills, and even academic
achievement (Ierardi, Bottos, & O'Brien, 2007). In Thailand, dance takes many traditional forms
including Khon, Lakhon, and Fawn Thai. With access to dance studios or community dance
events, it could be possible for children at risk of sexual exploitation to use dance as their own
form of protection. Through this creative expression, children can become inspired, empowered,
and form solidarity with other dancers.
Conclusion
Trying to eliminate child sexual exploitation in Thailand is a complex and difficult issue
to resolve. Thailand has been practicing prostitution for over 600 years, therefore it has been

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intertwined with their history, culture, and economy. Only in the last century has the government
made laws preventing children from working in sex industry. However, these laws were shown
to be ineffective. Child sexual exploitation is difficult to eliminate because there is a high
demand for sex workers, regardless of age. This is a problem that must be addressed, not only
domestically, but also internationally. Children who are victims of sexual exploitation lose
educational opportunities and are forced to work in harsh conditions. These children are also
heavily exposed to various forms of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. Though it is a
complicated issue, appropriate interventions can be created to help improve the lives of children.

Action Plan:
Our mission is to educate, empower, support and provide a safe space for victims of
sexual exploitation in Bangkok, Thailand. Fight Red Lights goal is to empower children who
are sexually exploited. Our objectives are to (1) offer opportunities and resources to children
involved in the sex trade in Bangkok, (2) educate the members of the community, (3) support
children who are sexually exploited, and (4) abolish stigma.
The sexual exploitation and trafficking of children is an issue of international concern.
Thailand is known for its sex tourism. Unfortunately, when compared to other countries,
Thailand has the highest number of child prostitutes per 100,000 individuals (Huynh, 2008). The
issue runs deep because the sex trade has become part of Thai culture. It is a cultural norm for
children to be sold into prostitution by their families. Poverty, lack of education, and stigma trap
youth in the sex industry. The psychological and physical effects of sexual exploitation can be
detrimental to childrens health. Yet, the problem is not simply solved by laws that further
criminalize and stigmatize children who are sexually exploited. The solution to this problem

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should start at a community level and offer refuge for these exploited children. According to
Ierardi et al. (2007), dance can improve the self esteem, academic achievement and motivation
of at risk children. In order to empower, educate, and offer escape to the sexually exploited
children in Bangkok, Fight Red Light purposes a community based dance event that will partner
with local individuals and organizations to create a positive experience for children who have
been sexually exploited or are at risk of future exploitation.
In order to create an exciting dance event that will draw in members of the community,
much work must go into the planning stages. We will have our event in the Pan Pacific Serviced
Suites located in Bangkok, Thailand. We will be contacting the hotel one year before the event,
in order to secure our date. The reason we are choosing the Pan Pacific is because of its great
involvement in supporting at-risk youth. The Pan Pacific is known for their Youth Career
Development Program, which was launched by UNICEF Thailand. The program helps provide
girls who are at high-risk of sexual trafficking with the opportunity to receive employment in the
hotel and vocational training. The Pan Pacific Hotel was the first location to start the program in
1995, therefore at-risk youth will be able to feel more comfortable attending an event in a
location known for improving the lives of many young people. In addition, since individuals who
were a part of the Youth Career Development Program may have received employment in the
Pan Pacific Hotel, we will be reaching out to them to help facilitate our event. The Pan Pacific
Bangkok will give youth the opportunity to attend an event in an accessible location.
Prior to conducting the event, we will send our grant proposal to the Freedom Fund. We
will apply to the Freedom Fund to receive the support to make our vision a reality. The Freedom
Funds mission is to bring a stop to modern day slavery, including sex-slavery, in Thailand. The

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foundation has already targeted Thailand as one of the top countries with enslaved people,
therefore we plan to send out grant proposal to the Freedom Fund to help create our event.
In order to make our event as motivating and inspirational as possible, we will plan to
partner with a large of variety of organizations. First, we are planning to contact UNICEF
Thailand, which already plays an impactful role in helping to prevent child exploitation. In
relation to UNICEF, we will also be contacting The Developmental and Education Program for
Daughters and Communities Centre (DEPDC), one of the first non-governmental organizations
located in Northern Thailand whose focus is on providing at-risk children with opportunities to
receive education and life skills through a variety of services. We will also be partnering with
The Royal Project Foundation, an NGO whose purpose is to help address the issue of poverty
with hill-tribe youth in Thailand. In addition, Fight Red Light will collaborate with ECPAT
International whose focus is to end child prostitution, child pornography, and the trafficking of
children. Most importantly, we will be getting in touch with local community leaders, such as
schoolteachers, who will be willing to be a part of our event to help provide at-risk children with
support and opportunities.
Our partnership with the rumPUREE World Dance Studio is critical to the success of our
dance event. The studio offers a variety of dance classes, including traditional Thai Dance,
which will be the main focus for our event. We will be contacting Kru Nid (Komkai), an
experienced Thai dancer, and asking her to be a part of our event. In addition, we will be
contacting the Dance Centre Bangkok: the School of Performing Arts to join us. The Dance
Centre is partnered with the Royal Thai Government Ministry of Education and maintains their
links with various cultural organizations. The professional teachers will be asked to speak and
demonstrate the power of dance to the youth attendees.

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A year prior to our event, we will contact these organizations. We will get in touch
through email and inform them about our purpose and ways they can help. We plan to first
introduce our project and idea for the event, and then continue to keep in contact with them and
utilize any of the resources they may provide to help with the planning of our event. Our purpose
is to make sure that these organizations are heavily involved with our event, so that they can help
create a huge impact on the attendees present.
With our advertising efforts, we hope that we will be able to reach a large portion of the
community, but most importantly, we hope to reach children that are being sexually exploited.
When we welcome our guests to the event, we will be focusing our attention on the children
because they are our target audience. Of course, we will absolutely not be asking our guests
whether or not they are involved in the sex trade because that is confidential and sensitive
information. We do not want to put our guests in any difficult or compromising circumstances,
and our priority is to create a safe space for all of our guests.
In addition to having children be our guests, we want locals to come and participate as
well. Having people from the local community come to our dance event will give us a great
opportunity to raise awareness about the issue of sexual exploitation of children. It will also give
us a chance to teach them a few other things using our events planned workshops. For example,
some locals may not be fully aware of the sexual exploitation that is going on, or they may know
but not see why it is harmful and dangerous. They may also have some misconceptions about
virginity and children in the sex trade. For example, some people may believe that having sex
with a child will cure them of their venereal diseases (Lau, 2008). If this is the case, then we
hope to bring awareness to the topics of safe sex and sexually transmitted infections. Hopefully
this, and other information from our dance night, will dissuade them from participating in the sex

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trade as customers, pimps, or people who force their children into the trade. In addition, we hope
that the information we provide will encourage some of our guests to join us in our fight against
child sexual exploitation.
The event itself will be called Together We Dance and will be held in early autumn. It
will last for four hours, however attendees may come and go as they please. We chose to open
up the event at 5pm to hopefully increase childrens attendance. To spread the word, we will
begin recruiting volunteers about 6 months in advance and start advertising one month prior to
the event. The target audience for our event will be at-risk youth and youth already involved in
the sex trade. Both of these targeted groups will be our main priorities. We will aim to prevent atrisk youth from entering the sex trade by presenting them with opportunities to receive the skill
sets to further themselves. With the help of the organizations we have previously mentioned, our
mission is to provide our audience with information so that they do not get tunneled into
becoming sexually exploited. For children who are already involved in the sex trade, our
purpose will be to provide them with a chance to explore alternate options for work. The youth
we hope will attend will be from small impoverished villages located throughout Thailand to the
main city of Bangkok.
As the night approaches, flyers will line the streets of Bangkok with information about
where to go and what to expect. Upon arrival, volunteers will get everyones attention and give
them a warm welcome. Elected speakers from NGOs we have partnered with will give a quick
introduction about what this event is all about. They will share our goals for night: to empower
children, form solidarity between groups, learn about resources available, and have fun. After
this, there will be a short period to mingle and meet other people before the next activity begins.
Promptly at 5:30pm, a local dance company from the Bangkok Dance Academy will be

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performing a traditional Thai Dance piece. This dance perfomance is meant to motivate girls to
work toward a goal and open up new possibilities for them in dance, leadership, and other facets
of their lives.
After the exciting dance performance, a few members of the company will stick around
to hold an interactive workshop with the girls. In this workshop, one member of the company
will serve as a choreographer and teach the girls a few eight counts. After about 45 minutes of
learning this short piece, the girls will break off to practice on their own, or in small groups. We
hope that during this phase, girls will begin to form friendships and work through the dance to
their best abilities. Finally, the choreographer will call everyone together and the other company
members and volunteers will take a seat to watch the girls perform the piece. Coming into this
event, some of these girls may have had no dance experience at all, but with a little time and help
from other dancers, they will be able to put on an exciting performance and showcase their skills.
We hope for this workshop to allow the girls to become leaders and inspire them to feel
confident about their strengths.
After about an hour, a volunteer will gather everyones attention once again for some
more information. Refreshments and snacks will also be provided. Our event will not only bring
awareness to the children involved in the sex trade, but it will also bring attention to local
organizations that are fighting against commercial sexual exploitation of children. At this point,
three elected guest speakers from various NGOs will take the microphone to share their stories.
We hope to partner with TWT and EMPOWER in order to have a diverse group of speakers
including someone who got out of the sex trade, someone who is still involved in it, and an
educator. These speakers will shed light upon the reality of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

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They will also share what each organization is doing to combat these problems, as well as what
resources are available for children.
After the speeches come to a close, the girls will be directed to walk around the perimeter
of the space and look at the tables we have set up. Each table will have a poster with information
from organizations about what they do and what they can offer, some handouts, and a volunteer
ready to answer any questions. During this time, we hope that girls will see that being exposed
to sexual exploitation and trafficking is not their fault. There are many stressful circumstances
that often force children into this harsh trade. However, they are not alone. At the tables, girls
will be able to speak with others about their personal strengths, rather than focusing on being a
victim of a greater structural problem. Instead of being faced with stigmatization and judgment
regarding the trade, they will receive support from their peers and form helpful bonds. By
bringing awareness to this issue, we will be removing self blame and helping children to build a
better future.
At 8:30pm, volunteers will bring everyone together one last time for some closing
remarks. We hope that this event was fun, informative, and inspiring for all who were involved.
For the last half hour, we will have music and refreshments for the girls. Free dancing as well as
group dancing is encouraged. In this last bit of time, we want the girls to have fun and be free to
dance as they wish. As the night nears its end, volunteers will have the girls participate in an
evaluation of this event. In order to evaluate our event, we will have brief surveys available to
be taken before leaving the event. These surveys will be open-ended and ask about positive and
negative aspects of our event and suggestions for improvements that can be made in the future.
When considering these surveys, we acknowledge that not everyone will want to fill them out.
Therefore, we will have a small raffle event for those who do fill out surveys. After filling out a

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survey, each guest will receive a raffle ticket, and at the end of the night, a raffle will be held and
a few small prizes will be awarded. In addition to the surveys, we want to know what the
children learned from our event. Therefore, we will have a small board where children can either
write or pin up a tag describing what they have learned or what they most enjoyed. With these
methods, we will learn about the various attitudes regarding our event and what the attendees
have taken away.
Our Together We Dance event aims to empower young children in the sex industry
through creative dance. With the help of our sponsors and our volunteers, we also hope to build a
community that is educated in what sexually exploited children experience in order to eliminate
the stigma that is put upon the children who were involved in the sex industry. We will have
speakers, who were a part of the sex trade, share stories about how they entered and left the sex
trade. This will provide a safe space for people to share their own stories and for people to
understand what its like to be a sex worker. Not only will we provide a safe community for
those who are involved in the sex industry, we will be providing sex education information so
that those that are in the sex trade will have better protection from venereal diseases. By
empowering, educating, and supporting sexually exploited children we will give them the
resources to change their lives for the better. Though it will be hard to eliminate child sexual
exploitation in Thailand due to the multiple layers of the issue, our community event will be a
large stepping stone towards our goal of spreading awareness about this issue.

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Budget:

2
3

Hotel Facility Cost: 30,000 bahts~$898 (5 hours)


o Room
o Tables
o Chairs
o Stage/Dance floor
o Lighting System
Head Coordinator: 500 bahts/ hour~$15/ hour
o May take 6 months to prepare
Meet once a week for 24 weeks for 2 hours per meeting
(2 hours*500 bahts)*(24 weeks)=24,000 bahts~$720
Set Up, Event, Clean Up (8 hours*500 bahts)=4,000 bahts~$120
2 Contacting acts and speakers
3 Make sure everything is running smoothly
4 Help with tasks that is needed to be finished
5 Work hand-in-hand with the team
Team (5 people): 335 bahts/hour~ $10/hour (1,675 bahts total/ hour~$50 total/ hour)
1 May take 6 months to prepare
1 Meet once a week for 24 weeks for 2 hours per meeting
(2 hours*335 bahts)*(24 weeks)=16080 bahts~$482
Set Up, Event, Clean Up (8 hours*335 bahts)=2,680 bahts~$80
5 people total
o Planning: 80,400 bahts~$2,410
o Set Up, Event, Clean Up: 13,400 bahts~ $402
2 Decorate the room with decorations
3 Place the tables and chairs corresponding with the layout
4 Decorate the table with tablecloths and centerpieces
5 Two team members should follow the timeline to make sure everyone is at their
place to talk/dance
6 One team member makes sure the food is served properly.
Dance team: $25,000 bahts~$750 (performance day)
Speakers (2-3):12,500 bahts/Speaker ~$375/speaker
1 25,000 bahts (2 speakers)~$750
2 37,500 bahts (3 speakers) ~$1,125
Food (snacks/meal):
1 143 bahts/person ~$4/person
2 143*75 people= 10,050 bahts ~ $301
3 Steam Table Pan (Heating Tray): 301 bahts/tray~$9/tray
1 5 trays*301 bahts=1,501 bahts~$45
4 Gel heating fuel
1 1001 baht for 12 packs~$30 for 12 packs
5 Chafing Racks
1 2,269 bahts for 12 racks~$68 for 12 racks
6 Paper Plates
1 80 paper plates: 334 bahts~$10

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7
5

Utensils
1 180 (fork, spoon, knife): 468 bahts~$14

Water
6 bahts/bottle ~ $.20/bottle
6*225 bottles= 1,350 bahts ~ $40 for 225 bottles
Sound System Rental
1 33,367 baht~$1000 (Day of performance)
1
2

Total Funding Request: 246,697 bahts ~$7,933

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Appendix A
Figure 1. Timeline

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Appendix B
Figure 1. Map of Thailand

Figure 2. Map of Pan Pacific Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand

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Appendix C

From: Huynh N. T. (2010). Child Prostitution in 12 Countries: An Exploratory


Study of Predictors. The Pennsylvania State University, 135-157.

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Appendix D
Figure 1. Expenses of the Event

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