Aug 9, 2007

Asian pop stars fight back against human trafficking

HONG KONG — Two of Asia’s hottest pop acts, Thailand’s Tata Young and South Korea’s Rain, are to help highlight the fight against rampant human trafficking in Asia in an MTV-backed initiative on Wednesday.
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"How could people do this to each other?" Thai pop sensation Tata Young told Reuters by phone from Bangkok.

"To hear all these stories of children and women and men going through

human trafficking and exploitation, it hurts me so bad," added the confident, brassy 26-year-old, whose skimpy outfits and best-selling albums have led to her being dubbed Asia’s Britney Spears.

Young will help host shows and documentaries on youth music channel MTV which is aiming to raise awareness of what has been described as a "tragic form of modern day slavery" in collaboration with the US-based Agency for International Development (USAID).

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says economic disparities in Asian countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia fuel the trafficking of children and women towards Thailand.

Australia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan are also considered major destinations by the ILO for the trafficking of prostitutes from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Human trafficking is a major global problem, particularly in Asia and Africa. The United Nations estimates 2.5 million people are currently coerced into forced labour or prostitution in a trade worth $7-10 billion annually.

Another Asian star, South Korea’s King of Pop, Jung Ji-– better known as Rain, will also help MTV publicize the cause.

"Law enforcement and community level efforts to stop human trafficking have been hampered by the public’s lack of awareness about the severity of this problem," said Olivier Carduner – USAID’s Regional Mission Director for Asia, in a press release.

Young, who was born to an American father and Thai mother, said it was important that Asian stars did more to back social causes – as Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie did in the West.

As for her musical plans –Tata is hoping to release a Thai language album at the end of the year that would include a homage to Thailand’s revered monarch – King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

"I kind of want to sit down and write a song for him ... about the love he has for Thailand and the love all of us have for him," she said.

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