'Last Rescue in Siam' - an Empower film

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wojtek
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May 17 2012 04:20
'Last Rescue in Siam' - an Empower film

The above is a funny black and white movie called Last Rescue in Siam which makes fun of the police, NGOs and social workers in the tradition of the old silent movies, think slapstick ala Laurel and Hardy.

It is the first film ever made by sex workers in Thailand and accompanies the research report "Hit & Run" produced by the Empower Foundation, a Thai sex worker organization started by Ms Chantawipa Apisuk, a group of sex workers and activists in Patpong, Bangkok in 1984. The report begins:

Quote:
We travel for days up the mountains, across rivers, through dense forest. We follow the paths that others have taken. Small winding paths of dust or mud depending on the season.

I carry my bag of clothes and all the hopes of my family on my back. I carry this with pride; it’s a precious bundle not a burden. As for the border, for the most part, it does not exist. There is no line drawn on the forest floor. There is no line in the swirling river. I simply put my foot where thousands of other women have stepped before me. My step is excited, weary, hopeful, fearful and defiant. Behind me lies the world I know. It’s the world of my grandmothers and their grandmothers. Ahead is the world of my sisters who have gone before me, to build the dreams that keep our families alive. This step is Burma. This step is Thailand. That is the border.

If this was a story of man setting out on an adventure to find a treasure and slay a dragon to make his family rich and safe, he would be the hero. But I am not a man. I am a woman and so the story changes. I cannot be the family provider. I cannot be setting out on an adventure. I am not brave and daring. I am not resourceful and strong. Instead I am called illegal, disease spreader, prostitute, criminal or trafficking victim.

Why is the world so afraid to have young, working class, non-English speaking, and predominately non-white women moving around? It’s not us that are frequently found to be pedophiles, serial killers or rapists. We have never started a war, directed crimes against humanity or planned and carried out genocide. It’s not us that fill the violent offender’s cells of prisons around the world. Exactly what risk does our freedom of movement pose? Why is keeping us in certain geographical areas so important that governments are willing to spend so much money and political energy? Why do we feel like sheep or cattle, only allowed by the farmer to graze where and when he chooses? Why do other women who have already crossed over into so many other worlds, fight to keep us from following them? Nothing in our experiences provides us with an answer to these questions.

Instead of respect for our basic human rights under the United Nations Human Rights Council we are given “protection” under the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. We are forced to live with the modern lie that border controls and anti-trafficking policies are for our protection. None of us believe that lie or want that kind of protection. We have been spied on, arrested, cut off from our families, had our savings confiscated, interrogated, imprisoned and placed into the hands of the men with guns, in order for them to send us home… all in the name of “protection against trafficking”. It’s rubbing salt into the wound that this is called helping us. We are grateful for those who are genuinely concerned with our welfare... but we ask you to listen to us and think in new ways.

After “raid or rescue” we will walk the same path again, facing the same dangers at the same border crossings. Just like the women fighting to be educated, fighting to vote, fighting to participate in politics, fighting to be independent, fighting to work, to love, to live safely… we will not stay in the cage society has made for us, we will dare to keep crossing the lines...

Last Rescue in Siam was shown at the Don’t Talk to Me About Sewing Machines event at the recent Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) conference in Istanbul. You can find out more here.

wojtek
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May 17 2012 04:39

Kaythi Win, Chairperson of Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers made the following speech at the AWID forum:

Alternatively you can read it here:

Plenary speech by Kaythi Win, Chairperson of APNSW at AWID forum in Istanbul, 21 April 2012