[With background by Phil Robertson]: The Seattle group was successful in persuading Senator Murray to introduce in the Senate the sense of Congress resolution (see below) that was introduced earlier by Rep. Louise Slaughter in the House. This is important because most Congressional offices don't really take such resolutions seriously unless there are bills in both the House and Senate. Having it introduced in both places is indicative that there are real plans to pass it, rather than just have it introduced to appease some group of constituents. The Murray bill is exactly the same as the Slaughter bill.

I have spoken to both Murray and Slaughter's staff persons and their view is to try and line up as many co-sponsors as possible in the next few months. Slaughter and Murray are both planning to issue "Dear Colleague" letters urging their colleagues to co-sponsor but the grass-roots will have to do its part too with letters and phone calls. When an elected representative reads the actual text of the bill, there is really very little they could be opposed to -- after all, everyone is against forced prostitution and trafficking of women (with the exception of the corrupt Thai police and brothel owners profiting from it). It's just focusing their attention to get them to co-sponsor that is difficult.

Please take the time to write or call your Senators to tell them to examine the bill  and co-sponsor it. If they want additional information on this situation in  Thailand, they should talk to Human Rights Watch/Asia in Washington, D.C. at (202) 371-6592. The report they want to obtain from them is called "A Modern Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand". It's very comprehensive in detailing this horrible situation. According to Slaughter's staff person, Kate Keplinger, Human Rights Watch/Asia was thrilled to learn about the introduction of the bill in the Senate and will also be making calls to Senate offices. I will be continuing to monitor the situation and staying in touch with Murray and Slaughter's staff. You can reach me at (301) 270-1009 (h), (202) 778-4517 (w) or for updates.

1st Session
S. CON. RES. 12

Expressing the sense of the Congress concerning the trafficking of Burmese women and girls into Thailand for the purposes of forced prostitution.

May 4 (legislative day, May 1), 1995

Mrs. Murray submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


Expressing the sense of the Congress concerning the trafficking of Burmese women and girls into Thailand for the purposes of forced prostitution.

Whereas credible reports indicate that thousands of Burmese women and girls are being trafficked into Thailand with false promises of good paying jobs in restaurants or factories, and then forced to work in brothels under slavery-like conditions that include sexual and physical violence, debt bondage, exposure to HIV, passport deprivation, and illegal confinement;

Whereas credible reports also indicate that members of the Thai police force are  often actively involved in, and profit from, the trafficking of Burmese women and girls for the purposes of forced prostitution;

Whereas the United States Government conducts training programs for the Thai police and United States arms and equipment are sold to the Thai police;

Whereas the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination  Against Women requires all States Parties `to take all appropriate measures,  including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of  prostitution of women';

Whereas Article 1 of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of  Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery calls for the complete abolition or abandonment of debt bondage;

Whereas forced labor, defined under the 1930 Forced Labor Convention as `all  work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any  penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily,' is internationally prohibited;

Whereas the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others finds the traffic in persons for the purposes of prostitution `incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person,' and calls on States Parties to punish any person who procures for the purposes of prostitution, keeps, manages or knowingly finances a brothel, or rents premises for the prostitution of others; 

Whereas Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs John Shattuck has testified that the United States `urgently needs to encourage countries in which trafficking of women and children goes on with impunity to enact new laws, and to enforce existing laws. A particular target of this stepped-uplaw enforcement should be government officials who participate in or condone trafficking, as well as brothel owners and traffickers'; and

Whereas Secretary of State Warren Christopher stated before the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights that `(g)uaranteeing human rights is a moral imperative with respect to both women and men':

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that--

  1. trafficking in persons violates the fundamental principle of human dignity, and forced prostitution involving physical coercion or debt bondage constitutes a form of forced labor and a slavery-like practice;

  2. the United States State Department should continue to press the Thai  Government to strictly enforce all laws that can lead to the prosecution of those involved in trafficking and forced prostitution, including procurers, traffickers, pimps, brothel owners, and members of the Thai police who may be complicit; 

  3. the State Department should ensure that Thai police participants in United  States Government-sponsored police training programs are systematically vetted to exclude those who are implicated in trafficking and forced prostitution;

  4. the executive branch should take steps to assure that weapons and equipment provided or sold to the Thai police do not become available to members of those forces who might be involved in trafficking, forced prostitution, or abuse of women and girls who are apprehended;

  5. the State Department should urge the Thai Government to protect the rights  and safety of Burmese women and girls in Thailand who are freed from brothels or who are arrested as illegal immigrants because their status as trafficking victims is unclear;

  6. the United States Agency for International Development should target a  portion of its assistance to Thailand for AIDS prevention and control to the  foreign population in Thailand, particularly Burmese women and girls in the Thai  sex industry; and

  7. the State Department should report to Congress, within 6 months of the date  of this resolution, on actions that it has taken to advocate that the Thai  Government implement the above steps.