BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Police have rescued 19 girls from a brothel near the home
of interior minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who has pledged to wage an all-out war
on vice, local newspapers reported Feb. 7.
The raid was staged after police received complaints that young women were being
held in the brothel against their will.
The English-language the Nation said the brothel had been operating for several years
but local police turned a blind eye because its owner had maintained close relations
A day earlier Chavalit had ordered a step-up in a campaign against forced prostitution,
especially involving the young.
The three-story brothel had 120 small cubicles in which the prostitutes, aged 16
to 20, serviced customers, the newspaper said.
Police arrested the brothel owner, Prasert Sukkhi, 35, on charges of procuring prostitutes.
The government of prime minister Chuan Leekpai vowed to eradicate child prostitution
following the murder of a prostitute who had escaped a brothel in the southern city
of Songkhla last November.
But observers say the anti-vice campaign faces a major obstacle in the police themselves,
who routinely protect brothel keepers in exchange for money and other favors.