There are an estimated 610,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Thailand (GSI 2018). Men, women and children are victims of human trafficking for forced labour in the Thai fishing industry, subjected to physical abuse, excessive and inhumane working hours, sleep and food deprivation, forced use of methamphetamines and long trips at sea confined to the vessel. Due to the fishing industry relying on trans-shipments at sea to reduce expenditure, some find themselves trapped on long-haul trawlers for years at a time. This makes the monitoring of enslaves labour on fishing vessels costly and difficult.
Vicheth migrated to Thiland with his cousin’s nephew because his family was poor. A broker they met in Poipet trafficked them on to a boat carrying rice. On the boat he worked shifting bags of rice, with each bag weighing 25-50kg, Vicheth’s pay depended on how much he lifted. However, when he asked for money, the boss told him he had not yet worked enough. With a group of workers and a crane, Vicheth would lift several tonnes of rice per day, sometimes getting a break during the day but often working until 2am with no time to sleep. Vicheth worked in the Thai sea and was trafficked several times on to different boats.
When I got there, I believed I would be working on the land. I was shocked when I saw the big boat and was asked to carry rice. On boat, I got a fever several times. I lied to them that my wife was dead, and so eventually they gave us some money and let us go… They paid us 2300 baht (US $70) between us for eight months work.
Narrative provided by Hagar International, featured in the report Reintegration of Cambodian trafficked men: Trends in trafficking and available aftercare services written by Kate Day