Rahab Bazaar is a faith-based organization which provides a way out of exploitation for women in Bangkok's Patpong red light area. Through their jewelry production center, Rahab is able to offer realistic economic alternatives to women who are ready to reclaim their lives. Some of the women in this district were trafficked; many were forced into prostitution by extreme destitution, or because they had children to support and saw no other means of survival.
Rahab survivors and staff go four times a week into the brothels. The Outreach Team offers compassion, a listening ear, and the opportunity for a new life. Rahab employs 25 women, and provides short term housing for women leaving prostitution, until they can earn their own living outside of the brothels. Peer support, spiritual support, English instruction and counseling are also provided. While Rahab is a Christian organization, services are provided equally to all regardless of religious affiliation.
What we love about Rahabb is their sensitivity to the needs of each individual woman and girl - understanding that each person is unique with her own dreams, gifts and potential. But some things we all have in common: no one wants to be degraded and exploited. Everyone needs and deserves to be loved. Every few months, the Rahab team takes the women (including those still snared in exploitation) on camping trips, enabling them to play and to feel safe and happy, and to build on the relationships they have started. For many girls, this is their first experience of safety, dignity and love in a long time. Thanks to the presence of Rahab in this community, it doesn't have to be their last.
Survivor Story from Rahab: Took was born in Ubon in North East Thailand. Her family made a living by selling fish in the market. She was one of three children and her mother died when she was 12 years old. Death of a parent is a major risk factor for human trafficking worldwide. When Took was 14 years old she got into a relationship and became pregnant. She and her partner moved to Bangkok where he drove a taxi. Unfortunately her boyfriend was abusive and beat her regularly. Domestic violence is another risk factor for exploitative situations or trafficking. When her son was 2 years old, Took could no longer stand the beatings and ran away, finding work in a karaoke bar. Three years later, she met another partner and married him. Took had another child, but was then abandonded by her husband. She later began dating a guy who worked in Patpong a red light area of Bangkok. Desperate to support herself and her children, Took entered the dangerous and demeaning world of brothel prostitution. She met the Rahab Outreach team during their weekly visit to the district, and with their support, was able to leave prostitution and join the Rahab jewelry team. Took’s faith has been an important part of her healing process, and she feels happier and more balanced than ever before.
How do people get out of slavery? Some are rescued in raids by local or international agencies working with trusted police. In this case, rescue workers sometimes risk their lives by making multiple visits to a brothel, posing as customers, to build trust with the victims, so that the girls do not hide or run away on the day of the raid. In other cases, outreach teams including survivors go daily or weekly into the red light areas building relationships with the community and offering help to people interested in a different kind of life. This work can also be dangerous, as traffickers will go to great lengths to protect their investments. Some people have managed to escape slavery on their own, risking their lives in a desperate bid for freedom.