Every year, thousands of teenage girls are lulled into human trafficking and abuse – most through the internet. This was an issue that Somsak Khlongkrajonsri, Director at a Compassion center in the Thai village of Huai Nam Khaw, wasn’t willing to ignore. He knew of several incidents of sexual abuse within his community, and he knew that the girls at the center needed to learn both how to avoid abuse and how to defend themselves.
“We estimate that 95 percent of victims of abuse or cyber issues are girls,” Somsak said. “Self-defense is very important for these kids to learn. They need to understand the dangers from using the internet and social media today. Both boys and girls have weaknesses, and this at least will help them to know how to protect themselves. At the least, self-defense will help prevent more problems.”
“The program was so much fun,” said Teerunnas Worrawatsampan, 13. “I learned about the dangers of the internet, and I felt so scared. I learned about self-defense for the first time, and I will use this in my life to protect myself.”
“Our crime records show that in human trafficking areas, much of the targeting for the sex-trade industry can be around age 14,” said Officer Songkrod Souisod, who taught during the program. “When children this age can’t afford to continue in education and they are poor or have no job, they may be more at risk. The sex-trade agency may trap them with the promise of an income. The girl may fully know that it’s a sex-trade industry job, but she may still choose to go. And once the agency has taken her, it’s often too late to turn around.”
In all, 11 Compassion centers participated in the two-day self-defense workshop, helping hundreds of girls feel safe and educated – and giving dozens of Compassion staff members the tools they needed to help each child feel known, protected and loved.