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    293768

    Thailand's child labor problem.

    Crossette B

    Interdependent. 2006 Summer; 4(2):23-26.

    Nam Phund, who is only 11, begins her work day at 3 am when the night's harvest of shrimp arrives, hours before dawn breaks over the Gulf of Thailand. That's when 13-year-old Fa goes to work, too. She doesn't know exactly how long she works, peeling shrimp for a seafood processing factory, but she says the day has come and gone and the sky is dark again when she goes home. Fa and Nam Phund can't tell time. They can't read. They are among the tens of thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar who have fled the political repression and economic meltdown of a country once known as Burma, and they are not entitled to an education in Thailand. Instead, they work beside their mothers, or alone, on their feet for 14 hours a day or more. The stories of migrant workers in Thailand would not be unfamiliar to Americans, because many of the factors that have brought poor Asians here, often in family groups, are similar to the conditions that propel Mexicans and others to cross the southern United States border. Prosperous Thailand is a magnet, drawing the poor and hopeless from neighboring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The booming Thai seafood processing industry needs workers and will pay brokers--many of them no more than illegal traffickers--to find that labor. The reservoir is large. The migrants are willing to do the work Thais no longer want, in the fishing industry, in homes, agriculture and restaurants. Cambodians, in particular, are often turned into beggars on Bangkok streets, under the control of begging syndicates. (excerpt)
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