New app aims to help women overseas

New app aims to help women overseas

The Yingthai app was developed for the Women’s Affairs and Family Development Department (DWF).
The Yingthai app was developed for the Women’s Affairs and Family Development Department (DWF).

The Women's Affairs and Family Development Department (DWF) has introduced a new mobile application to help Thai women in trouble, including human trafficking victims, in foreign countries.

DWF director-general Lertpanya Buranabundit said the Yingthai (Thai women) application aimed to provide assistance for Thai women in trouble abroad, particularly those who fell victims to human trafficking, forced labour and the flesh trade.

The application also helps Thai women who plan to live and work in other countries.

The app is already available for free for Android phones at the Google Play Store at goo.gl/mZjico. It will be available at the Apple store as well.

Mr Lertpanya said Yingthai, developed by the DWF, provides information on support networks in foreign countries, legal and cultural tips, important contact numbers, tips on preparing for overseas trips, lifestyle advice and information on Thai organisations in each country.

He was speaking at a workshop for Thai women planning to live abroad, held by the department in Chon Buri recently. The app was launched at the training session attended by more than 100 women.

Mr Lertpanya said more Thais are leaving the country to study, work or marry foreigners, and the app would help the women prepare and adapt themselves to an unfamiliar culture.

"Those in trouble who need help overseas can use the application to quickly find useful information anywhere, anytime," Mr Lertpanya said, adding the agency will update information on the app regularly.

Besides the Yingthai app, Mr Lertpanya said Thai women can seek help through Yingthai.net, adding the department has worked closely with Thai women's networks in several countries.

The agency, which is under the umbrella of the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, has strong networks in the US, and European and Asean countries including the Netherlands, Italy, the UK, Japan and South Korea, he said.

Meanwhile, Kwanjai Hennig, who was lured into the flesh trade by her German ex-husband, said she was forced into prostitution by her ex-partner for five years while she lived in Germany.

She was locked inside the man's house. The man would drop her at a massage parlour, which doubled as a brothel, and picked her up after work every day.

Ms Kwanjai said she tried in vain to escape the man several times.

One day, she had the chance to use a telephone to call the police. Her ex-husband was arrested on human trafficking charges in 2008.

The Thai embassy in Germany later contacted her to help two other Thai female victims who faced similar ordeal by working as a translator.

The two women's names and identities were not disclosed. Even though both were able to live in Germany legally, they insisted on returning to Thailand.

Ms Kwanjai said after the incident, she made up her mind to work as a volunteer for a Thai women's group to help those lured into prostitution in Germany.

She now works at a cleaning company in Germany, and also makes an additional income by caring for the elderly, she added.

Nongnuch Kethom, 37, a beautician working in Pattaya, said the workshop opened her eyes to the many channels Thai women could use to secure help overseas, both through the application and the website.

With information and knowledge from the app and website, she can better prepare herself and consider things thoroughly before deciding to live or work abroad, she said.

"Many people told me about their hard times abroad. These channels will help them tackle the troubles by providing useful information such as the Thai women's networks in each country," she added.

Panarat Bernardinf, member of a Thai women's network in France, said the attitude towards marriage between Asian and Western people were different so this issue could lead to conflicts between Thai women and their foreign husbands.


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