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Human Rights Watch OWED JUSTICE
Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan

Human Rights Watch
New York Washington London Brussels
Copyright September 2000 by Human Rights Watch.
All rights reserved.
Printed in the Unted States of America.
ISBN 1-56432-252-1
Library of Congress Card Number: 00-107963



I. Summary
II. Key Recommendations
III. Context
    Labor migration
      Regional migration in Asia
      Immigration from Thailand to Japan
        Male and female migration patterns
        Visa policies--skilled and unskilled
        Criminal networks
    The Sex Industry in Japan
      Government policies
      Role of foreign migrants
      A Global Problem
      Into the Japanese sex industry
IV. Profiles
V. International Legal Standards On Trafficking In Women
    Trafficking in women--a human rights violation
    Other relevant standards for combating trafficking in women
      Forced labor, servitude, and practices similar to slavery
      Labor rights violations
VI. Recruited In Thailand--Sold On Japan
VII. Servitude In The "Snack Bars"
    Snack bars
    Debt Bondage
    Tactics to prevent escape
      Passport Deprivation
      Restrictions on movement and communication
    Excessive hours
    Abuse by clients
    Risks to physical and mental health
    Release from debt
      "Finishing" the debt
VIII. Deportation As "Illegal Aliens"
    Voluntary surrender
      Difficulties in obtaining the documentation and funds to return home
      Abusive treatment of deportees
    Arrest, detention, and deportation
      Arbitrary arrest of trafficking victims
      Arbitrary and prolonged detention
      Violations of due process in deportation procedures
      Abusive conditions in immigration detention facilities
      Excessive restrictions on communication
    Mistreatment in the criminal justice system
IX. Response Of The Japanese Government

    Response to Trafficking in Persons--Rhetoric without action
    Existing legislation that could be used to punish trafficking and debt bondage
      Penal Code
      Anti-Prostitution Laws
      Entertainment Businesses Law
      Labor Laws
      Immigration Law
      Lack of due diligence in enforcing existing laws
    Laws and policies that exacerbate trafficking victims' vulnerability to abuse
      Targeted and mistreated as "illegal aliens" and "prostitutes"
      Excluded from Labor Protections
        Lack of labor rights protections for undocumented immigrants
        Lack of labor rights protections in the sex industry
        Denial of access to critical public services, such as subsidized health care
          Discrimination in access to emergency health care
          Denial of subsidized treatment for HIV/AIDS
          Discrimination in access to reproductive health care
          Immigration reporting requirement
      Assistance provided by local advocates and private service providers
        Private organizations provide shelter, health care, and other services
        Volunteer advocates have provided some victims with a measure of redress

    X. Response Of The Thai Government

      Combating Trafficking in Women
        Education and Awareness-Raising Programs
        Legislative Reform
        Weak enforcement efforts
        Policies that incorporate gender discrimination
        Hilltribe women's vulnerability
      Services for Victims
        Assistance in repatriation
        Shelter and vocational training in Thailand
        Violations of the right to return to one's own country
        Biases undermine usefulness of skills training programs
        No effort to assist women in seeking compensation for violations

    XI. International Response

      Government Efforts: Multilateral and Bilateral
      Intergovernmental Organizations Address Trafficking in Persons

    XII. Recommendations

    • To the Japanese Government
    • To the Thai Government
    • To the Japanese and Thai Governments
    • To All Governments
    • To Intergovernmental Organizations

    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
    International Organization For Migration (IOM)
    International Labor Organization (ILO)
    World Health Organization (WHO)