The Street Girl of Sukhumvit

I never knew her name… She wouldn’t tell me. She wasn’t a local Thai either, so I named her ‘The Street Girl of Sukhumvit’. Underneath the twinkle of her emerald eyes, I saw the broken girl inside.

She often begged on the steps of the Skytrain Station in Sukhumvit, the most popular street in Bangkok, Thailand. ‘Street Girl’ wouldn’t say much, but just smiled, as she lifted her cup for some exchange.

Beggars like her are mostly Cambodians who are ‘rented’ from their parents by unscrupulous gangs to capitalize on their innocence and serve their human trafficking tradings.

Like ‘The Street Girl of Sukhumvit’, beggars will prey on sympathy but will never see any of the money they make. Their lives are controlled by the traffickers, and every day these beggars will have to turn over their profits in return for a place to sleep and food. Although most of the beggars are very young, they understand that they are in Thailand illegally, and could be deported back to their country at any time, or even something worse!

Human trafficking in Thailand is a sad realty. Traffickers wander into villages and offer cash to parents for their children. The average rent amount for a child is 3,000 Thai Bath, [US$96] per month. Promises that their children would work in Thailand, send money back home, and even attend school, convince parents to make a verbal agreement with the traffickers, for a rental of their children for periods between six months to a year.

At first, traffickers return to the villages to pay the parents for a few months, but soon after the payments stop, and the promise of education is never honoured. Some traffickers return the children, but most don’t.

Then just like that, ‘The Street Girl of Sukhumvit’ was gone! I often took the Skytrain and looked for her, wanting to know if she was okay, and to give her a print of the picture I once took of her, and maybe, even learn her name, but I never saw her again…

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