Chinese women clad in school uniform begging for money in Thailand; human trafficking suspected
BANGKOK - A Chinese woman who appeared to have been severely physically abused has been arrested for begging in front of a shopping mall in the Pinklao area in Bangkok.
She was missing two fingers and had suffered acid burns to her face.
Thai police think she is part of a human trafficking gang, as a check of her bank account revealed 2 million baht (S$76,000) moving through the account every month.
She initially thwarted attempts to apprehend her, hiding out in a restroom of the shopping mall. The police eventually entered the restroom, brought her out, and conducted a thorough search while questioning her.
The police discovered a significant amount of money, around 10,000 baht, in her bag, which is suspected to have been obtained through begging. However, no passport was found.
During the questioning, the Chinese beggar said she entered Thailand on Nov 10 to work as a beggar, unaware this was against Thai law.
She told police she was divorced and has two sons residing in China, whom she needs to support.
Regarding the wounds on her body, she claimed that they dated back to her childhood and that she was playing with friends when a liquid-filled object exploded in a vehicle, resulting in visible scars.
The Chinese beggar asserted that she had no fixed residence in Thailand and she slept wherever she could find shelter.
This contradicts the evidence found, such as keys and a key card in her bag, which she claimed to have obtained from someone who lost them on Nov 17.
She mentioned purchasing a school uniform because she found Thais looked attractive in them.
Following the arrest, another Chinese woman claiming to be an interpreter for the beggar came to the police station with the beggar’s passport. She told officers she had been contacted to act as an interpreter and coordinate with the police.
In this case, she was unaware of the specific details but was instructed to bring the beggar’s documents and explain the situation to the police.
This incident bears similarities to a case the previous week when authorities apprehended individuals exhibiting characteristics of foreign beggars. All are Chinese nationals, all aged over 40.
They were observed wearing Thai student uniforms in an attempt to gain sympathy from the passing public in exchange for financial support.
After the arrests, a woman claiming to be the interpreter for all the Chinese beggars approached the police, seeking to settle the matter.
She offered to pay bail to secure their release and enquired about the amount required. However, the authorities refused to release anyone.
A preliminary investigation indicates that each beggar receives more than 10,400 baht per day and earns an average of 1.8 million baht per person per month.
Given their abnormal physical conditions, such as both hands appearing to have been dipped in hot substances and faces covered with scars, all the women appear to be victims of human trafficking,
Even though they claim to have voluntarily chosen to beg, they are hesitant to provide any information to the police, fearing their families will pay if they speak out. - THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK