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The Nation

WOMAN’S DYING: wish to punish traffickers who ruined her life

Published on Jan 23, 2006

Urairat Soimee, 38, said she was lured into prostitution in Japan and jailed for killing her “mama san” (pimp) before she was sent back home after authorities found she was dying of cancer. Believed to be in the last stages of the disease, Urairat said she has one last wish.

She wants to live long enough to punish the people who destroyed her life and set the stage for other victims of forced prostitution to take action against human traffickers.

“I hope that I may witness the end of this story,” said Urairat.

She has filed a Bt4.68-million civil lawsuit against three locals who allegedly lured her to Japan and forced her to work as a sex worker.

The ordeal left her with ovarian cancer, she said.

“What I want [from the fight] is not money. I am doing it for Thai women who face the same fate as I did,” she said.

In 2000, Urairat was offered a job as a waitress in Japan by neighbours.

The family next door comprised Sarit Kampa, his wife Kai Kampa and daughter Pattama Kosaka. The three were accused of being human traffickers by Urairat.

The three allegedly sent her to a Yakuza gang who forced her to provide sex to pay off a 5.5-million-yen (Bt1.9 million) debt.

She was kept in a small, old apartment controlled by a Thai “mama san”. Every day Yakuza members took her to service customers who made arrangements over the phone.

The Yakuza would take her from one customer to the next. She serviced five or six customers a day.

“I had to work from midday until dawn without holidays, regardless of illness or menstruation,” she said. “They watched my every step. It was a real nightmare.”

If she failed to work or received a complaint by a customer, she was fined ?200,000 per incident.

After six months, she paid off Bt3.8 million but freedom appeared a distant possibility.

She learned the gang planned to sell her to another ring where she would have to start repaying debt again.

“I couldn’t stand it anymore. I heard I was to be sold to another gang to work on an island. If I appeared useless to them, I may be flung into the sea to drown. So I decided to escape.”

During her attempt to flee, Urairat, with the help of a Thai man, killed the mama san. She said it was an accident.

She was arrested and a Japanese court sentenced her to seven years in prison.

After five years she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. To treat her, doctors removed her reproductive organs.

She was then flown home to Thailand to spend her remaining years.

At that time, the Japanese authorities were informed of how Urairat was tricked into the flesh trade.

Her three Thai agents were soon arrested in Thailand and Phetchabun province’s Lom Sak criminal court gave them a 13-year jail sentence.

She said there were many Thai women, even retards, who were forced into prostitution in Japan. Many were given drugs or beaten, she said.

Last October, Urairat returned home in Phetchabun where her family, including her husband, son and daughters, tearfully received her.

Urairat’s adopted mother, Lamyai Kaewkerd, 62, said: “It was torturous period for me as I did not know what had become of her. She went to Japan and then she was ‘missing’ until she turned up in jail. The agents came and all they said was ‘Urairat killed somebody’.”

The reunion may prove to be short as the cancer had spread to several parts of her body. They also live in fear, saying they had been threatened by the agents.

“I am afraid but I won’t surrender. I want to unmask the traffickers to the public. I want the world to know some Thai women are not willing to be prostitutes and they had been forced into it,” Urairat said.

Chatrarat Kaewmorakot

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