Seng* was only 14 years old, but he was living in the back of a Thai massage parlor with about a dozen* other young men. Like him, they were all from Laos. And they were all being trafficked for sex.
The employees at the massage parlor were forced to offer sexual services in addition to providing massages. The spa owner required them to accept whatever abuse the customers wanted. If the men refused or complained, their trafficker threatened them and withheld their pay. Their hours were long, with shifts often exceeding 12 hours.
Seng had been lured to Thailand with the promise of good work. The owner of the spa, who was also from Laos, told Seng and the others that he had work that would be easy money. The promises had been so enticing that some of them had risked leaving home without all their immigration paperwork in order. Now they were stranded, without legal status in Thailand and without options. Even those who were there legally felt trapped by the threats and manipulation. A fence ringed the house-based spa, a visual representation of the trap they were in.
As the weeks went by, the abuse took its toll. Seng watched the men around him suffer as he suffered himself. He was exhausted. He was traumatized. He was ready for things to change.
Local law enforcement heard about the spa when someone noticed how young Seng looked. Neighbors were also seeing strange activity around the building. People were coming and going at all hours of the day.
Officers talked to Seng, asking about the living and working conditions. Bravely, Seng told them everything.
That’s when police requested support from The Exodus Road. Our Thai team members gathered evidence of the massage parlor’s illicit operations, establishing proof to back up Seng’s testimony.
When law enforcement moved on the location, they were able to remove more than 10 men as well as Seng. They arrested the spa owner and an accomplice. The business is being shut down for good.
The government immediately began work to safely repatriate the adult survivors who were there without legal status back to their home. Seng was transferred to a children’s home where he can begin healing from the horror he has been through.
This illegal trafficking operation was shut down because of Seng’s courage. Your support meant that The Exodus Road’s team was ready to respond to his testimony. Thank you for being part of freedom for these survivors and justice for those who abused them!
*Name and image representative; for security purposes, we are not sharing the exact number of survivors