Thailand is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for sex trafficking.
Children from poor families are forced into prostitution to help pay the bills, while traffickers lure many others into the industry.
Close to 40,000 children under the age of 16 are believed to be in the sex trade, working in clubs, bars and brothels.
Emily Wade learnt this at age 12, when her family moved from Australia to Chiang Mai to set up
After returning to Australia to complete her HSC and finding a job in fashion, Emily never really felt content where she was.
“After five years of working in fashion I finally realised how unsettled I was. Although I felt incredibly torn, I didn’t feel like I could leave the industry, but hated how shallow it could get. I got to a point where I realised I could probably find a way it could help people.”
That's how Sweet Society Apparel was born.
Emily abruptly quit her job with plans to move to Thailand to set up Sweet Society Apparel, a label dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking.
“It was a really hard decision for me, as I worked hard to get the job I had. I remember the day I resigned. I was driving home from work, freaking out in my car thinking “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” But at the end of the day, this is my dream, and I just had to go for it.”
Sweet Society aims to teach women skills like sewing, patternmaking and design, while also creating job opportunities for girls through a clothing line.
“A lot of the women that get rescued from sex trafficking end up going back into the industry because they don’t know how to do anything else. A lot of them were sold into it when they were children, so they don’t have other skills,” Emily said.
Emily and her small team moved over to Chiang Mai in January, where they are already working with local dressmakers to get the clothing line up and running.
It comes at an important time. A recent report ranked Thailand as Tier 3 in Trafficking in Persons, the worst possible rank.
This means the Thai government is failing to comply with the US State's minimum standards for eliminating trafficking.
“There would be no sex trafficking if there wasn’t a demand for it,” Emily said.
“By teaching the legal and health effects of buying sex and the realities of prostitution, it can reduce demand, making men conscious of how their actions can spur on human trafficking.
“Raising young men to be respectful and protective of all women and children is one of the most important things we can do to stop trafficking.”
We’re 100 per cent behind her, with the clothing line set to launch next month. Keep your eyes on Sweet Society Apparel for updates.