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A stitch in time

(Photograph) - A stitch in time: a Thai girl learning to sew on the UNICEF Daughters' Education Programme, which sponsors education and training for girls whose parents are too poor to pay.

Families in the north of the country are vulnerable to the agents of brothels in Bangkok who recruit among the rural poor. Approximately 80,000 girls under 18 are employed in the sex industry.

Since the programme started in 1989 girls who would have been destined to join them are now considering careers in medicine, journalism and teaching. UNICEF supports more than 200 girls in primary and secondary schools, 140 in vocational training and 10 in leadership training and village development. Sompop Jantraka, founder of the project, said: "It is much more than education. We need to enable the girls to talk about their society and learn to be strong women." The scheme also warns about the problems of drugs and Aids and involves discussion with families to persuade them that their daughters will earn more with their new skills than they would if they are sold to a brothel owner.

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