“We have to buy a drink. So pick something out.” We sat outside a busy bar in the Red Light District in Bangkok Thailand and we were about to pay for a woman’s time. Every night a woman pays a bar fine to work there. She makes her money by getting customers to buy drinks. She gets 30% of her customer’s bar tab.
I kept wondering at what point is management going to throw us out of here. They have to know we are not customers. So we start building relationships with the women. We are ordering drinks, laughing, and taking selfies. Management has no idea what we are taking about. I listen to one woman share her dream to own a clothing shop in a mall. She is only doing this to save money. How long has she worked here? 1 1/2 years. How much has she saved? $0
The reality is many cannot leave because they owe so much in bar fines. At the bar we were at, she has to pay the bar $100 a day, every day of the month regardless if she is working or not. So for the month of June, she has to pay $100 for 30 days for a total of $3000. Before she takes home any money, she must pay this. But don’t worry if she can’t, the bar will keep a running tab for her. That’s generous of them.
Last Saturday was our 1st Red Light District talk at our house. I pulled out my journal and looked at the notes I made from the trip and instantly I was back in the bars. I remember listening to the young woman share her dreams of leaving and knowing the chances of her getting out on her own were slim. If you try to leave and owe a bar fine, they threaten to kill you or your family. She truly is trapped. This is what modern day slavery looks like. Whether it’s Thailand, India, Nepal, Bolivia or Charlotte NC- it’s all the same. Women are trapped and can’t get out on their own.
So why am I telling you this? Because once you know, you are responsible to do something with this information. What’s your part? At The Marketplace, you can support ministries who are going into these places week after week by buying their products. You can donate to the One Woman Campaign RESTORE Project. Pray about it and ask God what your part is. We cannot end this until we all get involved.