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หลังสงครามโลกครั้งที่สอง ในการต่อรองเรื่องอุดมการณ์ระหว่างทุนนิยมและคอมมิวนิส์ ประเทศไทยเป็นประเทศยุทธศาสตร์ที่สำคัญ ในหมู่ประเทศในเขตุเอเซียได้มีการตั้งคำถามและหาทางออกที่ไม่ติดอยู่กับสองอุดมการณ์นี้ซึ้งก็เป็นจุดเริ่มต้นของการหาวิธีสร้างเอกลักษณ์ทางการเมื่องและการปกครองที่มีความเฉพาะต่อภูมิประเทศและวัฒนธรรม จึงได้มีการจัดประชุมหมู่ประเทศเอเซียและแอฟริกาในปี 1955 ที่ Bandung[1] การประชุมนี้อาจเรียกว่าเป็นจุดเริ่มของ Decoloniality การหลุดออกจากค่านิยมที่มาจากอาณานิคมทางวัฒนธรรม แต่ในที่สุด decolonization ไม่เกิด สหรัฐและระบบทุนนิยมได้เข้ามามีบทบาทที่สำคัญในการพัฒนาประเทศไทย สมัยจอมพลสฤษดิ์ เรามีแผนพัฒนาฉบับแรกโดย World Bank รวมถึงหน่วยงานต่างๆที่เข้ามามีบทบาทที่สำคัญเช่น Rockefeller,  Fulbright, Ford Foundation และอื่นๆ fast forward เรามี Quantum Fund ของนักเสรีนิยมประชาธิปไตรที่เหมือนเป็นชนวนวิกฤติต้มยำกุ้ง  ตามมาด้วย เสรีนิยมใหม่ ผ่าน IMF และเสรีนิยมใหม่ก็เพิ่มความเข้มข้นมากขึ้น ภนวกกับความต้องการที่จะไปสู่มาตรฐานสากล การ deregulate และ privatize จนในที่สุดเราก็มาถึงจุดที่เรายื่นอยู่ในปัจจุบัน ความฝันของ decoloniality ที่สูญหาย และทางข้างหน้า เหมื่อนย้อนกลับไปสมัยสงครามเย็น เพียงแต่บริบทเปลี่ยนจาก cold war เป็น trade war ระหว่างตะวันตกและตะวันออก การเลือกตั้งครั้งนี้ เหมือนการวัดใจว่าคนไทยจะเลือกสร้างพันธมิตรกับจีนหรืออเมริกาและอียู เราคงต้องดูกันต่อไป

[1] (https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/perspectives-global-african-history/asian-african-bandung-conference-fact-and-fiction/)

 

 

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Globalization has not resulted in global prosperity that it has promised. According to the 2006 World Development Report, the gap in income per person between the thirty riches countries and the thirty poorest countries grew from 17 to 1 in 1980 to 27 to 1 in 2002.  People at the top 20% benefit from liberal free-trade policy and the higher they are up the ladder, the higher the profit. However, the lower they are the lower they will lose out in proportion. According to United Nations Development Program, in 1960 the gap between the richest 20 and the poorest 20% was 30 to 1. By 1991 it has grown to 61 to 1 and by 1994, 74 to 1. In 2004 the gap between the top 10% and the lowest 10% was 103.

What is the effect of globalization on labor? Here are some examples:

Globalization and Agriculture

Globalization and Factory Workers

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Gospel According to Skid Row: Benefit Concert

Chen Fong Auditorium, Fourth Floor, Centennial Complex, Loma Linda University

April 16, 2011  from 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Poster

This benefit concert will be performed by members of Skid Row, Los Angeles. We invite you to come and be a witness to lives touched by the gospel and expressed through gospel music. Enjoy narrations of existential struggles, of hope in the midst of lost and grace at the center of life’s predicament. The funds raised during this concert will be used to support the ministry of LA Central City Community Church in providing care and services to the homeless residing in Skid Row.

Some Facts

“According to this recent study, the number of homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County has reached 90,000, up 8.4 percent from 83,000 in 2003. Ito noted that “the County of Los Angeles is now the homeless capital of the United States,” surpassing by far New York City’s 40,000, Chicago’s 9,600 and San Francisco’s 9,600 homeless populations. “To put it in perspective,” noted Ito, “the homeless population of Los Angeles County is larger than the entire population of the city of Santa Monica [a beach community that abuts Los Angeles]. It is truly an appalling situation.”

The bulk of the LA county homeless—82,291 out of the 90,000—are found in the City of Los Angeles—South Central (which includes Watts, Downtown, Pico Union, Boyle Heights, Hollywood—and in the City of Compton and in some of the smaller cities within the county. The industrial city of Long Beach, to the south (California’s sixth largest), Pasadena and Glendale to the north conduct their own count and provide their own services. They have 6,000, 1,200, and 400 homeless, respectively.

Out of the city’s 82,291 homeless, 34,518 (42 percent) are considered chronically homeless; that is, they have been “on the streets for more a year or more, or have had four episodes of homelessness in the last three years” and “have one or more disabilities, including mental illness, substance abuse and health conditions.” Approximately 55 percent of this population suffers from three or more disabilities.

–Ramón Valle, 17 October 2005, wsws.org

According to official U.S. government statistics issued in November of 2007, more than 1 in 10 people in the United States go hungry. More than 35 million people went hungry in 2006 according to the same report; almost 13 million of them were children and many of the rest were impoverished senior citizens.

www.freedomtracks.com/statistics

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It is depressing watching news every day about what ‘s happening in Thailand. What’s worse is when you learn that news are not accurately portrayed especially among foreign news agencies.  We hear reports of military using life ammunitions.  What we do not hear is that there are all types of weapons within the protesters camps, that there are among protesters hardliners who will go to any extend to pursue their agenda.  But that’s not really what I’m planning to write here.  So here’s what I think.

If we were to look at Thailand as a collective body with a collective psyche, we will be able to recognize that this collective self has, through dominant discourse, defines its self identity and its worth through philosophical capitalism.  By philosophical capitalism I mean a place where people are measured by their productivity which, often the case, is determined through material outcomes.  There’s really nothing wrong with this definition except when it becomes the ultimate channel for self-definition that in an indirect manner imposes itself on the collective body.  I do not think that it is consciously intentional but it gets transmitted in a more subtle ways and through these subtle means those who are not within these categories feel marginalized.  Jung tells us that that which is suppressed will never remain suppressed.  It will have to emerge somewhere.  So the primal force that has been suppressed for decades bombarded through mass media has to have an outlet.  Again, when they are not well acknowledged or process, these forces can be brutal and very primal.  And it is the natural process of the collective unconscious.  It shows itself in unpleasant means.  In Jungian psychology, it is not the question of ridding the self of these forces.  It is about recognizing and embracing.  The dark side is not an element to be surgically removed.  The dark side is to be recognized.  The question is how does recognition work?  Perhaps the question can be changed to what is perpetuating these dark side?  I like to think that in different ways, what perpetuates this primal political forces is how our society has come to define for itself what success is and how people are valued as people, how worth is quantified.  And so we have the term the ‘elite’ that belongs to this category.  I think the problem is not that there’s the economically elitist group within our society as much as the lack of other variable for self-definition. It is through this definition of the economic elite that we have the poor and the underpriviledge and the uneducated and the unsophisticated.   This may remain true if and only if it is the only definition.  What is sad to me is that in many ways Buddhism has offered a very different perspective on self-definition that counters this common understanding.  In Buddhism the worth of a person is not determined by wealth nor sophistication.  In Buddhism, a person’s worth is his or her act of compassion and the ability to make merits.  This religion has given Thais other alternatives for self-definition.  If we were to take this definition and apply to Jungian context, it implies natural distribution of human value through expanding definition of self and what it is worth.  In this definition there’s the dark side is no longer dark, the marginalized find themselves within the margin, the force is tamed and absorbed into the collective conscious of the unconscious self.  Taking this analysis further, what needs to change may not be political system that we see through those striving on the streets in Bangkok.  It is the dominant discourse that may have to be redefined.  Wealth or the lack thereof does not determine a person’s worth.  This worth needs to be rooted in something that transcends itself.  Just a thought.

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When one starts exploring social issues, one becomes more aware of their complexity.  This was true for me when I started out looking and researching the topic of human trafficking.  The dark side of human trafficking is more complicated than just mere black and white dichotomy.  There are many shades of gray in between.  The public discourse on the topic some time has over dramatized the issue.  Not that it isn’t bad but dramatizing distorts the actual picture and may cause greater harm to victims than not.  So here are some points that I believe need some clarification.  

1. According to the 2005 report by the International Labor Organization, of the 9.5 million in forced labor, only 10% of these were victims of sex trafficking. The overemphasis on sex trafficking can generate its own problems. David Feingold (2005) offers an example:

The focus on the sex industry may galvanize action through moral outrage, but it can also cloud reason. A recent example is the unsubstantiated press reports that tsunami orphans in Indonesia’s Aceh province were being abducted by organized gangs of traffickers. How such gangs could operate in an area bereft of roads and airstrips remains unclear, but that did not stop some U.S. organizations from appealing for funds to send “trained investigators” to track down the criminals. Although the devastation wrought by the tsunami certainly rendered people vulnerable—mostly through economic disruption—investigations by the United Nations have yet to identify a single confirmed case of sex trafficking.

2. Sometimes traffickers just transport recruiters to their destinations and do not know what happen at the final destinations.  Sometimes they do care about the people they smuggle into another country.

3.  Sometime the definition of trafficking itself becomes problematic. 

 The concepts of smuggling and trafficking are often confused.  Particularly for the situation of girls who cross the borders from Burma, Laos, Cambodia and

China into Thailand, it has been said that girls are not trafficked, but they become trafficked.6  Technically in many cases, the girls and women agree to be transported across a border (smuggled) to work as prostitutes, domestic servants and factory workers, but become “trafficked” when there are elements of force, fraud or coercion in the transaction. This includes girls and women who may know that they will be prostitutes in Thailand, but when they arrive, they find themselves in conditions they did not expect. This is the problematic nature of the concept of trafficking, which must be taken into account if anti-trafficking policies made are to be effective.  The problem in the Mekong sub-region, as in many other places,s is that it appears that, in the vast majority of cases, the actual movement across borders, by and large, is “voluntary” in the sense that the person has made the decision to travel for work, within the often limited range of choices available. It is the end outcomes—the nature, the terms and conditions, of work at the destination point, which defines most cases as trafficking.[1]

 4. Then there is the issue of statistics: Under the heading FACTS in LibertadLatina.org:

 Brazil is considered to have the worst child sex trafficking record after Thailand. According to the recently released Protection Project report, various official sources agree that from 250,000 to 500,000 child live as child prostitutes. Other sources in Brazil put the number at up to 2,000,000 children.[i]

 And in Wikipedia, it states, “Thailand and Brazil are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records.”[ii] If you look at the citation, you will find reference to LibertadLatina.org. Pasuk Pongpaijit, professor of economic in Thailand, pointed out that various studies on prostitution in Thailand cited numbers ranges from 65,000 to 2.8 million prostitutes.[iii] According to 1990 population census in Thailand, 8.3 million women were in the fifteen to twenty-nine age range, which is the most common age range among sex workers.[iv]  Further, prostitution is an urban phenomenon.  If there are really 2.8 million prostitutes, it implies that 24 percent to 34 percent are sex workers or every women in urban areas of Thailand.  Jenny Godley, in 1991, estimated the number of sex workers at 700,000 in this age range or roughly 24 percent of urban women.[v] Sittirai Veerasit and Tim Brown’s ethnographic studies in 1991 estimated the number to be between 150,000 to 200,000, or 1.8 to 2.4 percent of the women in this age range and 6.3 to 8.3 percent of urban women.[vi]  When it comes to child prostitution, approximately 17 percent of prostitutes visit health clinics.  Based on this figure, Phasuk Phongpaichit estimated the number of child prostitution to be at 25,500 to 34,000.[vii]  If the estimation of child prostitution cited by Wikipedia is correct in stating that Thailand has the worst child sex trafficking record (250,000 to 500,000) and factoring in the fact that of the 2.8 million women within the age range of fifteen to twenty-nine live in the urban areas, we are looking at an unrealistically high percentage of children in prostitution.  If we were to hypothesize that one-third of the 2.8 million are below the age of 18, we are looking at one in every two or one in every four children from the age of 15 to 18 in urban areas. 

 Last year while I was interviewing various NGOs and GOs on the issue of human trafficking, the first two things I became aware of were: sex trafficking is only a small part of the problem of human trafficking in Thailand and that no one really wants to talk about numbers. 


 


[1] Christina Arnold and Andrea M. Bertone, “Addressing the Sex Trade in Thailand:

Some Lessons Learned from NGOs, Part I,” Gender Issues, Winter 2002, 32.

[i] http://www.libertadlatina.org/LA_Brazils_Child_Prostitution_Crisis.htm.  Access Jan 12, 2010.

 [ii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking.  Access January 12, 2010.

 [iii] Phasuk Phongpaijit, Sungsidh Piriyarangsan, and Nualnoi Treerat, Guns, Girls, Gambling, and Ganja: Thailand’s Illegal Economy and Public Policy (Chiangmai, Silkworm Book, 1998), 200.

 [iv] Wathinee Boonchalaksi and Philip Guest, Prostitution in Thailand (Bangkok: Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, 1994), 29-33.

 [v] Jenny Godley, “Prostitution in Thailand,” in NIC: Freezone of Prostitution (Bangkok: Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, 1994), 148.

[vi] Veerasit Sittirai and Tim Brown, Female Commercial Sex Workers in Thailand: A Preliminary Report (Bangkok: Thai Royal Red Cross, 1991).

[vii] Phongpaijit et al., 200.

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I’ve just returned from three months of research on human trafficking in Thailand.  I have done 26 interviews with individuals working on the issue of human trafficking from government agencies, to UN, to NGOs in Central and Northern Thailand.  I also had the priviledge of talking to a girl who was a victim of sex trafficking and two wives whose husbands fall into the category of human trafficking as well.  These three months meeting different people have given me hope about humanity.  There is a deep admiration on my part for those I interviewed, the commitment, the passion, the determination, the saccrifice, the amount of energy invested to help and assist and protect.  And for the “victims” I met, they were more than  victims.  They were people determined to make things work even though the odds were against them.  They intend to fight until they can solve their unresolved situation.   This study is not only a study.  It is about people and about humanity and how my life has been influenced by their stories and how I come to regain a sense of hope in the midst of human tragedy.

I’m in the process of writing and alth0ugh this writing project is mainly about organizing information and critically reflect, I still think about the people I have met, and the stories they told, and the lives they’ve touched, and the determination not to give up on people.

The issue of human trafficking, the further you explore, the more complicated it gets.  It is not just about preventing people from migrating, or prosecuting pimps and traffickers, or designing good anti-trafficking laws, or implemeting policies and resolutions.  And all the numbers that have been mentioned in relation to the issue are often not as reliable as we think they ought to be.  The issue lies alot closer to home than we realize or want to acknowledge because it disrupts our comfort zone.  At the very core of human trafficking is exploitation.  And when we explore what actually constitutes exploitation, the line is no longer distinctive.  When we take a very close look at exploitation, it has a life of its own and often there are sociological, cultural and psychological factors that feed into its life.   It stands as a critique of the very existence of our civilization or perhaps our ideal of a civilized society from which we all are a part of.  And traffickers are just one extreme form of factors among many other players in this movement toward our understanding of civilization.

I asked Plew, a police officer in Chaing Mai, how can we best address the core of this issue.  Her answer was profound and simple, “If we all could live a simple life…”

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News from ADRA International

Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) near the town of Goma continue to hold thousands of people fleeing the ongoing violence in war torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding, distributing emergency supplies and assisting more than 6,000 people who remain displaced from their homes. This assistance is helping 3,578 families in the affected North Kivu Province. The distribution of non-food items includes 2,800 wool blankets, 850 school kits, and 4,000 multi-purpose fabrics that can be worn by women to protect them from the cold or to carry their babies. The school kits, which include book bags, notebooks, pens and pencils, are being given to elementary and secondary school-age students. The $64,000 project is implemented with funding from ADRA Norway, ADRA Canada, ADRA International, ADRA Sweden, the ADRA Africa Regional office in Kenya, ADRA Australia, ADRA United Kingdom, and ADRA France. The situation in the region remains tense following weeks of violence. Fighting between the Congolese army and the rebel group National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) surged in late October 2008 forcing more than 250,000 people into makeshift camps. Nearly one million are presently displaced in eastern Congo, or 20 per cent of the population of the entire North Kivu Province, according to the United Nations. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) in DRC has reported that IDPs have become the target of serious human rights violations from all sides of the conflict, including abuses by civilians. In a separate conflict in DRC’s northeastern Oriental Province, the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group has recently killed some 534 people and kidnapped more than 400 others in ongoing raids, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported. On December 14, Congolese, Ugandan, and Sudanese forces launched a joint military operation to repel the LRA. “We remain extremely concerned about the fate of residents who are now increasingly caught in a conflict zone near the borders of the DRC, the Central African Republic and Sudan,” said UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond in statement issued on January 13. Since 1996, more than 4 million people are believed to have died in the Congolese conflict, according to UN estimates, mostly due to preventable diseases and starvation. To assist ADRA’s emergency response to the growing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, contributions can be donated to ADRA’s Refugee and Displaced Persons Fund, by phone at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or online at http://www.adra.org. ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity. Additional information about ADRA can be found at http://www.adra.org. Author: Nadia McGill

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