Inside children are playing with cards and laughing. Some stop by after school and others have been sitting around longer. From baking and crafts to receiving therapy and legal help, the building is a safe haven for victims of child sex trafficking. This is Thailand’s first child advocacy center, founded by Boom Mosby.
Mosby is an expert in child trafficking in Thailand and founder of the HUG project, an organization dedicated to helping victims of child trafficking. In 2017 she won the TIP award for her work helping victims of sexual abuse. On Monday, Mosby came to the College of William and Mary to speak with students about child trafficking in Thailand and the steps she and others have taken to prevent it.
Mosby founded the HUG project in 2012 because she said an important part of working with children who have been sexually abused is to show them compassion to help them heal. She does not like to use statistics when it comes to success, because while you may take a child out of a bad situation, the most important thing is helping the child heal in the long run. She said it takes a team of 30 people and up to two years to help a child recover from their trauma.
Mosby works a lot with local law enforcement. Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children, a police task force Mosby helped create, has worked on 80 cases since 2015. While nine Thai offenders were caught in 2017, four U.S. citizens were also apprehended that year.
With this in mind, FBI and Thai police have begun to collaborate in recent years to try and convict offenders. Mosby said when they interview victims of child sex crimes, the FBI will listen in as well to determine if the case needs to be heard in the U.S. This way the child will not have to repeat their story and relive their trauma more times than necessary.
Mosby said the U.S. also created a Travel Child Sex Offender Law, so if a citizen travels to commit a child sex crime they can be tried for the crime in the U.S. This is important because sometimes offenders are let go in Thai court.
For example, there was a case of an American who was tried for a child sex crime in Thailand. He took some photos of himself sweeping a temple to show he “helped the community” and was let go by the judge with a suspended sentence. However, when he returned to the U.S., he was tried and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
The U.S. has also come up with preventative measures to help stop its citizens from committing child sex crimes in Thailand. Mosby said U.S. passports identify convicted child sex offenders.
While Thai law is harsher on child sex criminals than in the past, there are still cultural barriers to cross when it comes to caring for victims of sex crimes. While many families come to terms with the abuse of their children, Mosby said they sometimes just have to give up on other families.
"Without love, empathy and passion (the law) is nothing," Mosby said.
Want to learn more?
To learn more about the HUG project visit hugproject.com.
Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.