A young Thai girl we will call Fai was approached near her home in Chiang Mai about a job by an older woman we will call Mama. Fai, 16, and her family were assured by Mama that she would be a waitress and could earn money for her family. The promise of a job quickly turned into a flight to a far away province and her ID card being taken away, meaning she couldn't return home. Fai had been trafficked.
Her "job" wasn't waitressing but working for a karaoke bar as a prostitute. Mama and her husband sold Fai's virginity to a Chinese man for around $1000 USD. When she wouldn't comply, she was raped. Fai was soon sold to another customer. She threatened to go to the police and caused so much trouble for her captors that they released her. But Mama did further damage by telling people in Fai's home village that she was a prostitute, which brought considerable shame to her and her family.
Fai suffered from deep post traumatic stress; she was unable to shower without clothes on and had agonizing nightmares. Eventually, she made it to a shelter and received counseling. The healing was slow, but she eventually married. Mama and her husband were prosecuted within a year of Fai's escape. They received a long sentence, but were able to avoid capture and went on the run for years. Eventually, they were caught and brought to trial. After so many years and so much hardship, Fai was reluctant to give evidence at the trial, but LIFT's lawyer agreed to represent her and pursue a claim for monetary compensation against her traffickers.
LIFT's legal team secured 250,000 Thai baht ($7,662 USD) in victim compensation for Fai from her offenders. Compensation is significant both symbolically and in practice. The funds allow survivors the ability to provide for themselves and their families. Fai used the money to care for her dad and buy land for her family. In Thai culture, providing for your parents and family is a great honor. This was restored to Fai through her compensation. Life still isn't easy for Fai, and healing is a lifelong process, but her traffickers are in jail today. Victim compensation is just one of the ways LIFT works to ensure justice for survivors of trafficking.