MTV campaign targets sex trade


BANGKOK, Thailand -- MTV Networks and the U.S. Agency for International Development on Wednesday announced an Asia-wide campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking, calling it "a tragic form of modern-day slavery."

MTV tapped Thai pop star Tata Young and Korean hitmaker Rain to promote MTV EXIT, or End Exploitation and Trafficking, a campaign of documentaries, short films and public service announcements set to begin in September and last through 2008.

MTV, which broadcasts in eight languages across Asia, reaching a largely young audience, released a statement about the campaign from Bangkok, Thailand, where the sex trade has long drawn young people from the poor countryside and the neighboring countries of Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar to cater to sex tourists.

"Education is key to prevention," MTV vice chairman Bill Roedy said in a statement. "MTV EXIT is part of our commitment to help highlight issues affecting young people in Asia and across the world."

MTV expects the EXIT documentary programs to reach 380 million households.

The International Labor Organization, a specialized agency within the United Nations, defines trafficking as "recruitment and/or transportation of children between or within countries by the use of violence, threat of violence, deception, coercion or debt-bondage."

The ILO estimates that 194,180 foreign child laborers work in Thailand and that, of the 16,423 foreign prostitutes in Thailand, 30% are younger than 18. The U.N. estimates that there are about 2.5 million trafficked victims worldwide.

MTV EXIT aims to offer safe migration advice and guidance to young people at risk for trafficking, and to advise the public who may be unwittingly fueling the demand. MTV EXIT's programming is produced free of charge to all broadcasters.