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.
Atith was trafficked on to a Thai fishing vessel where he was forced to work long hours with no break, denied medical treatment and subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
Living on the boat was like facing death. Work was irregular; sometimes we worked non-stop three days in a row. If we could have just one hour off we would be happy. Some people were so weak they fainted. The Cambodians helped each other by coining (a practice of rubbing coins along the skin which is believed to have health benefits). There was only paracetamol for any kind of illness, for dizziness or anything else! There were no days off. Sometimes they would let you do light work, but that was not that different from heavy work, you were still outside under the rain. If we didn’t work well, they cursed and swore at us, sometimes beat us.