Human trafficiking and education
Spires, Robert Weber
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In this qualitative, ethnographic case study, I examine two Thai NGO shelters/schools working with human trafficking survivors and at-risk populations of children ages 5-18. The two NGOs had a residential component, meaning that children live at the shelter, and an educational component, meaning that children are taught academic and vocational skills. Education is a key intervention in the mission of both NGOs, and education is treated as a means of preventing human trafficking and protecting human trafficking survivors from returning to exploitative situations. The controversial definition of human trafficking and the continuum of vulnerability between at-risk populations and human trafficking victims are discussed. I explored the issues of statelessness and poverty through interviews with students, teachers and staff at the NGOs. I conducted observations in the NGO settings and in the broader Thai context by using ethnographic field notes. I described changes at the NGOs over time through a detailed account of specific aspects of the NGOs. I discussed NGO efforts to reduce the vulnerability of children, and the barriers that both children and NGOs face in vulnerability reduction efforts. Findings reflected the complex and multifaceted nature of vulnerability to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation for children in Southeast Asia. Finally, I discussed the interconnectedness of global issues of migration, statelessness, poverty within the local social context.