LETTER : Thai protection

From Miss Atchara Shayakul

Sir: Contrary to James Couchman's comments ("MP 'assailed by young girls at Thai sex club' ", 3 February), the Thai government is deeply concerned about the issue of prostitution, particularly the problem of under-age children being involved with the commercial sex industry to meet the demands of foreign "clients" visiting Thailand.

During the past five years, many legislative and preventative measures have been undertaken to combat the problem. A bill to improve the law on sexual offences against minors is now before the parliament. The proposed legislation includes a new offence which makes it illegal for parents to conspire to prostitute their children. Also, for the first time, any case involving a prostitute under 18 years of age will be regarded as "child" prostitution regardless of the minor's volition. Foreign nationals from a number of countries, including Britain, have been arrested and brought before Thai courts for sentencing on child sex abuse.

In addition, Thailand has taken steps to address the root causes of prostitution. These include education campaigns, assistance and rehabilitation centres for the victims of prostitution, and job creation for women in rural areas. The political will in Thailand to tackle the problem of under-age prostitution is very strong.

Yours sincerely,

Atchara Shayakul

Second Secretary

Royal Thai Embassy

London, SW7

13 February