Background information on issue:
Child prostitution is a very disturbing, yet very real international problem. Many young boys in Thailand choose this path because they are often unaware of what other path to choose in times of need. There is an estimation of about 30,000 to 40,000 prostitutes under the age of 18 in Thailand alone, making up about 40% of all the prostitutes in Thailand. The Red Light Districts in Thailand are some of the best known in the world and attracts millions of sex tourists. These children, eager of making money, find their way to the Red Light District in hopes of attaining customers. The reasons leading these young boys to their sexploitation vary: Many of these boys grew up in poverty, and selling themselves for sex is the best way they can think of to help financially support themselves and their families. Others may have been led into this industry by means of coercion, deceit, or pressure from friends and even family members. Regardless of the reason for entering the industry of underage prostitution, these children are still children who need to learn that there is more to life.
Urban Light is a “youth-focused organization committed to recycling, rebuilding and restoring the lives of boys who are victims of child prostitution and sexploitation.” They provide housing, clean clothes, food, access to warm showers, and most importantly, education for up to 25 young boys who are victims of child prostitution. The center acts as a safe haven for these boys. The boys can spend time there with the employees, volunteers, and other boys in similar shoes and work on developing a life outside of prostitution. The goal of my project, “More to Life,” is to provide these boys with the proper health education they need in order to stay safe while in the industry of prostitution. My goal is not to convince these boys to remove themselves from the industry, but instead to teach them about the risks of health implications involved in prostitution such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, emotional and mental stress, and more that are all common to these individuals. With the adequate information, these boys can make smarter decisions as they engage in sex for money. Many of these boys do not have the basic education they need such as knowledge of symptoms of STIs as well as when and why they should get tested. In the hopes of everyone involved with Urban Light, these boys will eventually choose to remove themselves from the dangers of prostitution and maybe even go back to school to earn the education they need in order to chase their real dreams.
My plan is to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand, the location of the center for Urban Light, in January 2012 for approximately one month. As part of my preparations, I will be gathering resources needed in order to teach approximately 20 different health lessons to the boys including but not limited to: basic hygiene, HIV/AIDS awareness, STI symptoms and treatments, importance of physical exercise, mental health, proper condom use, alcohol and drug use, and nutrition. During some evenings, I will be traveling to the Red Light District and learning about the culture in which these boys come from and promoting the Urban Light center for young boys who are unaware of their resources. The funds raised will be used for my flight to and from Thailand as well as my cost of living for the time spent there.
To better understand the young boys involved in prostitution, please watch the video posted to the left.
Visit Urban Light's website: