Slavery at Sea

14 images Created 19 May 2015

Slavery at Sea

After having explored better known aspects of Thai society (Ladyboys, thai boxers), Jean-Michel Clajot wanted to focus on those left behind the recent Thai prosperity, forced worker in the fishing industry.

The US Department of Sate (TIP report, 2012) estimates that as many as 27 million men, women and children are currently victims of human trafficking and slavery around the world.

Thailand is the third-largest seafood exporter in the world, after China and Norway, with exports valued by the Food and Agriculture Organization at around $7.3 billion in 2011. The Thai fishing industry extensively relies on slavery and forced labor.

The rise in forced labor on Thai fishing boats is linked to the growing global demand for low-cost seafood. The Burmese crews on the fishing boats are treated as modern-day slaves.

Out of the 2 million Myanmar workers in Thailand, more than 1 million are illegal.

Mahachai, unofficially known as “Little Myanmar” is located southwest of Bangkok and crowded with migrant workers from Myanmar. They are working at seafood factories and employed by Thai employers, for minimum wages of Bt200 (5EUR) per day. The use of trafficked labour is systematic in the Thai fishing industry. Migrant workers in the fishing industry, are suffering terrible abuses and are all too often denied their basic human rights

Some workers still don't have a status, although many of them have been living here for some time, some even managing to run small businesses like restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores and hair salons. Although they own small businesses, they still live in fear.

The area is officially under the control of the Thai police department. Migrant workers have to pay a bribe to Thai police officers monthly to avoid arrest. Police officers usually ask Bt800 per month for a shop owner who does not have all its paperwork. A worker can get arrested easily by police, which makes up stories about their illegal activities. When that happens, a price must be negotiated between the worker and police.

Each worker costs about Bt25,000-Bt35,000
The price captains pay for these men is a extremely low even by historical standards.
Slaves cost 95% less than the heyday of trafficking in the 19th century slaves , meaning that they are not regarded as long-term investments but as disposable commodities.
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