TIP Award Year:
Stella Maris provides pastoral care, services, and support for workers in the Thai fishing industry. Ms. Apinya has dedicated herself for more than seven years to combating human trafficking in Thailand, and she has worked tirelessly to assist workers exploited in forced labor. She has helped hundreds of workers in the fishing sector from various countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma, and Bangladesh, and has also played an active role in raising awareness of child trafficking. Ms. Apinya visits schools throughout the country to educate more than 10,000 students each year.
Ms. Apinya provides assistance to Thai authorities in the victim identification process, which can be especially difficult as fishing vessels are out to sea for months at a time. In one instance, authorities did not initially identify workers on a refrigerated cargo ship as victims of trafficking. Upon Ms. Apinya’s request, however, authorities conducted a new round of screening for these workers and, with her assistance, identified all of the workers as trafficking victims. Her assistance often does not end when individuals are identified as victims of trafficking, however; she also helps them reintegrate into society and avoid revictimization. Using her in-depth knowledge, Ms. Apinya has helped Thai authorities understand the lives of fishermen. Through several trainings for anti-trafficking authorities, Ms. Apinya helped to improve their capacity to detect indicators of exploitation at sea.