Facts and Statistics

Trafficking and Prostitution in Asia and the Pacific

-The world wide number of international migrants rose between the years 1965 to 1995 from 75 to about 130 million people.

-As many as 80% of the 236 women in prostitution interviewed in Battambang were found to have been trafficked.

-By the time they arrive in Japan, most trafficked Thai women have accumulated on average around 4 million Japanese yen, approximately $25,000 US in debt. Thirty percent of the women in prostitution in Cambodia were below the age of 17.

-But the youngest was found to be twelve. 1995 estimates of the total revenue from prostitution in
Thailand is approximately 59-60% of the government’s budget for that year. In 1991, 1992 and 1993 approximately 100 to 150 Bangladeshi women were brought into Pakistan and at least 2,000 are languishing in jails and shelters across the country.

-The total number of prostitutes in India is 7,936,509. UNICEF estimates that there are at least a million child prostitutes in Asia alone with the greatest numbers in India, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.

-A study done by Chris De Stoop reveals that trafficking in Europe most often involves Asian women. Australia Federal Police estimate that prostitution grosses A$30 million annually.

-International crime syndicates traffic both drugs and women; 10 smaller syndicates are known to traffic up to 300 Thai women yearly.

-Asian women are to be found in prostitution particularly in Canberra, Victoria and Queensland. Russian women have also been recruited for “tabletop dancing” in clubs that often have links to brothels.

BANGLADESH: 200,000 women and girls have been trafficked to Pakistan in the last 10 years, continuing at the rate of 200-400 women monthly. In 1994 alone, 2,000 women were prostituted in 6 major cities in India. In Dhaka, almost 2,000 of 5,000 prostitutes are children. Forms of trafficking: fake marriages, sale by parents to “uncles” offering jobs, auctions to brothel owners of farmers, abduction. In the last years, it is estimated that 200,000 women and girls have been trafficked from Bangladesh to Pakistan continuing at a monthly rate of 200-400 women.

BURMA: 20,000-30,000 prostituted women and girls in Thailand, about 1,000 from Shan state are in Chiang Mai. Forms of trafficking: deceptive job placements that land women in brothels, abduction by agents for clients, sale of girls from hill tribes. As illegal immigrants in Thailand, prostitutes are arrested, detained and deported back to Burma, with 50%-70% being HIV positive.

CAMBODIA: 10,000-15,000 prostitutes, 35% of whom are minors. The figure had been about 6,000 in 1991, but after the arrival of the UN UNTAC troops, the numbers rose to 20,000 in 1992. 48% of the women and girls in brothels were abducted and sold there, and are often resold to other brothels or to traders who smuggle them out of the country, for example to Thailand and Vietnam.

CHINA: There is a resurgence of prostitution and trafficking in women and girls all over China, involving a high percentage of children and minors. In 1994, 15,000 cases involving the sale of women as wives or of prostitution were handled by the police. For the years 1993 and 1994 the figures released by the INFLS were of 24,751 women and 2,731 children rescued. In some regions, Vietnamese, Burmese and Tibetan women have also been trafficked. Shangchuando Island off Guandong is a tourist spot offering drugs and sex casinos with 300 women in prostitution from all over China. There are now 70 million unmarried men in China as a consequence of the son preference of Chinese families. Many are desperately seeking wives from Vietnam though marriage arrangements are difficult. Through trickery, women are allured and trafficked according to the study of Le Thi Quy.

HONG KONG: Fake contracts, often for domestic work, land women in brothels that employ Chinese minders to prevent runaways. An influx of East European women in high-priced clubs has been noted with a Russian mafia said to be bringing women to Macau. In 1994, a woman attempting to escape a sex establishment was murdered.

INDIA: A quarter of the total number of prostitutes are minors, in over 1,000 red-light districts all over India. Cage prostitutes are often minors, often from Nepal and Bangladesh. Forms of trafficking: economic incentives offered to parents to part with their children, fake jobs or marriage promises, abductions. The promotion of tourism in Goa and Madurai, two of India’s major beach holiday destinations, appears to be resulting in rising numbers of prostituted children. In India alone, there are an estimated 2.3 million in prostitution, a quarter of whom are minors and children.

INDONESIA: 71,281 prostitutes have been registered, of whom 60,000 are between 15 and 20 years of age. Localized bordello complexes, “localisas,” are managed under local government regulations. Estimated financial turnover of sex industry ranges from US$1.2 billion to US$3.6 billion. In Indonesia, estimates of 1994 are 500,000 prostituted though registered prostitutes are only 65, 582.

JAPAN: Largest sex industry market for Asian women. Over 150,000 non-Japanese women in prostitution, mostly Thai and Filipino women. East European women have also been noted. Japanese men constitute the largest number of Asian sex tourists. The sex industry accounts for 1% of GNP and equals the country’s defense budget. One “sex zone” in Tokyo, only 0.34 sq. km., has 3,500 sex “facilities”; strip theaters, peep shows, “soaplands,” “lovers’ banks,” porno shops, sex telephone clubs, karaoke bars, clubs, etc.

KOREA: Around the military bases, there are 18,000 registered and 9,000 unregistered prostitutes. Forms of prostitution: escort and call girls, street prostitution, and from cafes, clubs, cabarets, show cases, massage parlors and beauty shops. Women suspected of prostitution can be confined in rehabilitation centers without due process.

MALAYSIA: Estimates 142,000 women in prostitution, between 8,000-10,000 in Kuala Lumpur. Main channels are the recreation business, i.e. entertainment, fitness clubs and the like.

NEPAL: 5,000 women and girls are trafficked to India yearly. After India with 100,000 women, Hong Kong is the second biggest market. Brokers especially in rural areas and even family members sell girls; husbands sometimes sell their wives to brothels. According to the book Rape for Profit, about 50,000 Nepali women and girls have been trafficked to India. Every year about 10,000 Nepali girls, mostly between the ages of 9 and 16 are sold to brothels in Indian cities. According to international social agencies, this flow of Nepali girls into Indian brothels is probably the busiest slave traffic of its kind anywhere in the world. Some experts believe that more than 200,000 Nepali girls are involved in the Indian sex trade. (Proceedings of the fact-finding meeting and the National Workshop on Trafficking in Women and Children, May 23-25, 1997, Dhaka, Bangladesh, edited by professor Ishrat Shamim Farah Kabir.)

NEW ZEALAND: Majority of the 6,000-8,000 prostituted women are Asians. In Auckland, of 4,000 prostituted 800 are Thai, and 400 other Asian women. Channels: false employment offers, sponsorship by boyfriends or fiances for residency, debt bondage is used to keep women in prostitution. New Zealand is also used by traffickers of Thai women as a departure point for Japan, Australia and Cyprus.

PHILIPPINES: 300,000 women in prostitution and 75,000 prostituted children. “Entertainment” is the main channel, but a range of establishments from dirt-floor beer houses to karaoke clubs to beach resorts to expensive health clubs provide prostitution for men of every class. Government policies favor the export of entertainers and domestic helpers that put women at risk of sexual exploitation. Further, government approval of “R and R” privileges for the US navy sustains a system and infrastructure of military prostitution. Of the 200,000 or so streetchildren in the Philippines, about 60,000 sell their bodies. (Asiaweek, February 7, 1997)

SRI LANKA: 15,000 prostitutes in the streets and in licensed and unlicensed massage parlors and brothels, and 30,000 prostituted children; 80% of labor migration in 1994 was of women workers. Job trainees in Korea and Japan have disappeared into underground labor markets, including prostitution.

TAIWAN: 40,000 to 60,000 prostituted children. 40% of young prostitutes in the main red light district are aboriginal girls. Girls under 13 have been made to undergo hormone injections by brothel owners to hasten their physical development. About 70% of 1,771 women from Thailand detained between 1992-95 for illegally staying in Taiwan, were in the “entertainment” sector.

THAILAND: estimates of women in prostitution range from 300,000 to 2.8 million, of which a third are minors and children. Thai women are also in prostitution in many counties in Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. Some 4.6 million Thai men regularly, and 500,000 foreign tourists annually, use prostituted women and girls. Some estimates put the number of under-age prostitutes in Thailand at 400,000 (Asiaweek, February 7, 1997)

VIETNAM: Between 60,000 and 200,000 women and girls in prostitution, with 6.3% under the age of 16. Trafficking happens through kidnapping for brothels, deceptive offers for jobs or tourist trips and marriage matchmaking with foreigners who sell and resell the women abroad. Organized tours of Taiwanese men come to buy brides for US$3,000.