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Thai woman jailed in Singapore
Release 5 September 2005

Earlier this week, Foreign Prisoner Support Services received a letter from 'Rork' a foreigner working in Singapore, alerting us to the recent arrest of his good friend, Miss Wandee Muangngam, a Thai National now serving an eight month sentence in Singapore's Changi Women's Prison.

Wandee's story is an all too familiar one that many young Thai women fall victim too. Wandee arrived in Singapore as a sex worker which in Thailand, is a common occupation for young women in the poorest economic situation. Being the eldest in her family, Wandee was simply trying the only way she knew how, to earn enough money to feed herself and save some money for her son, parents, and siblings.

Wandee was charged in September 2005 with corruption under Singapore's law for bribing an Immigration officer. During a return trip to Singapore, at the Immigration counter at the airport, Wandee was told that she would not be allowed entry into Singapore if she didn't provide her mobile phone number to the Immigration officer. Henceforth, that same Officer allowed her entry and later contacted her saying that he could guarantee entry visas for her friends for a fee. Wandee was reluctant but feared the repercussions if she didn't cooperate with the Immigration officer . From then onwards, Wandee found herself in a spiral of corruption activities involving the said Immigration officer.

A close friend of Wandee's told Foreign Prisoner Support Service that he thought Wandee was one of the nicest people he had ever known.

'She is a little gullible, but it is a shame that such a beautiful individual has to find herself in such a situation.' said Rork. [Real name withheld to protect source]

Rork learned of Wandee's incarceration late last week through Wandee's brother in Thailand and has been trying to assist her through the Thai Consulate in Singapore. Rork told Foreign Prisoner Support Service that he was concerned that Wandee might not be able to represent herself well in court.

'As mentioned, her mitigating factors cannot be ignored. But if the courts do not know of it, then how are they to account for it?' said Rork.

'It may all be too late to help her in terms of the incarceration but I am hopeful that the Foreign Prisoner Support Services may be able to assist Wandee to ensure that her stay in the prison is just and humane' Rork said.

Write to Wandee:

If anyone would like to write to Wandee please do so via this address. Please ensure your letters are respectful to authorities and to Wandee herself. This is a young woman who has suffered enough and needs people to understand that her lifestyle was never by choice. She was a victim of poverty and circumstance.

Miss Wandee Muangngam Prisoner Number #R7837-2005 Changi Women's Prison 10 Tanah Merah Besar Road Singapore (498834) Visit Officer Tel: 65469-895 / 65469-433 Records & Reception Office Tel: 65469-427

Consular Contact:

Khun Sukporn (Officer-in-Charge) Extension 814

SINGAPORE Royal Thai Embassy 370 Orchard Rd., Singapore 0923 Tel: (65) 62354175, 67372158, 67373372 Fax: (65) 67320778 6737-2644

FACTS on Commercial Sex Workers and WHY?
The Vietnam War (The American War)

The enormous scale of Thailand's sex industry today is largely a result of the American War in Vietnam. In the 1960s US Military bases began to proliferate in Thailand, and many young women were induced into the sex industry by their families and profiteers, as the high demand of US servicemen collided with the needs of Thailand's impoverished villages - eventually leading to the acceptance of prostitution as a source of income for young women. By the time the war ended in 1976, sex-industry establishments had expanded across the county and tourism was promoted in order to gain foreign exchange. Thailand was advertised to male foreign tourists as a place where they could indulge in sexual services, while at the same time it remained common for Thai men to visit brothels. Thus commercial sex became a huge business in Thailand, and quickly evolved into a well- organized industry supported by powerful entities.

In contrast to many societies, women in Thailand have played a central role as income-earners for their families and as financial supporters of their elders. In terms of social liberties, males in Thailand occupy a much more advantageous position than females. Young men are often given few responsibilities and allowed considerable personal and social freedoms. In contrast young women must follow strict behavioral guidelines and must assume most of the family and household responsibilities, while sacrificing their own freedom. Compounded by rural poverty and a lack of educational economic opportunities, such heavy filial burdens push a large number of young women into the sex industry to earn income for their families. Performing their expected duties, young women from Thailand's poverty-stricken north and northeast often go willingly with employment agents to work in Bangkok's massage parlours and other sex industry establishments. Commercial sex as a means for income has become a standard for many rural communities in Thailand. It has been estimated that there are approximately two million Commercial Sex Workers within the country. Over all estimates conclude that one in every five Thai women aged between 13 to 29 is a sex worker. Although there is a predominance of single males in the over five million tourists who visit Thailand each year, the vast majority of the clientele in the sex industry are Thai men. The frequenting of Commercial Sex Workers has become an institutionalized, socially acceptable practice for a very substantial part of the male population in Thailand.

Approximately 70 to 80 % of all Thai males have visited Commercial Sex Workers and about 30 to 40% use their service regularly. And in certain areas of Thailand it is estimated that approximately 90 % of Thai men are regular clients. A visit to a brothel has become a rite of passage for adolescent single males, and in the age of 16, half of all Thai boys have visited a Commercial Sex Workers.

Click here to read source article.

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All information is Copyright 1997 - 2005 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff
All information is Copyright 1997 - 2005 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff