March 1st, 2007
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The Volunteer for Children’s Development Foundation (VGCD)works with street youth of Chiang Mai, Thailand, to help keep youth from being sexually exploited or indoctrinated into the sex industry. (at left, a volunteer who once lived on the streets)
Many of the volunteers are past or current sex workers; several young men who hang out at the Chiang Mai gay bars catering to foreign clients looking for ‘dates’ also keep an eye out for children who are selling their bodies to get by. These volunteers often were once child prostitutes themselves. (at right: a young girl begs late at night; her mother and infant sibling are also begging across the street)
In Chiang Mai it is not uncommon to see seven year-old children selling flowers or begging into the wee hours of the morning. Often they are put to the task by their parents but they may also be worked by another adult. According to VGCD, for these children who spend so many late hours around the sex bars and foreign tourists, it is not much or a leap for the children to move from flower sales to sexual favors, especially when they learn how lucrative it can be. (at left: Oahn, a street child who volunteers believe is autistic, exhibits his hyper-sexualized behavior)
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