More on Geography of Thailand

My story is not unusual for someone in Thailand. I am Tranh Li, a 23 year old woman in Thailand.

Where I live in Bangkok it is crowded, noisy, industrial, and very polluted. I work for the US equivalent of 44 cents an hour in a factory producing clothing for a transnational corporation called RAGS, which produces and sells a line of clothing and shoes in the wealthier countries.

I learned last month that my husband infected me with HIV. Like many Thai men, he used to have sex with prostitutes.

Prostitution in Thailand is a major industry that profits from both local and international trade. Thai men and visitors go to the prostitutes, then take HIV back to their wives and lovers. And visitors do the same.

I'm feeling very weak and find that I cough up blood and sweat at night. The doctor said that I also have tuberculosis, something that often happens to those with AIDS. She said that HIV had suppressed my immune system, and that I probably had contracted the TB from someone where I work. She said that more women die from TB than from AIDS and heart disease combined. And TB has a new strain that is very difficult to cure with antibiotics.

Because TB is very contagious, I'm supposed to stay home from work for a month and take medicines. Because I earn so little, we are often hungry, so I have to work. I am afraid to tell my employer about my TB because he may fire me.

Worse, poor people like my family can't afford the medicines we need. Prescription drugs now have to be bought from private pharmacies.

Thailand recently had a crisis when its currency -- the baht -- suddenly lost value, and overnight our wages bought almost nothing because the currency had no value. Millions of Thai people lost just about everything.

An international agency called the IMF forced the government to make changes, and one result was that our government cut its health care budget and free health care services. Now I have no way to afford the medicines I must take, or to buy medicines for my children.

I worry also because both of my children have had repeated problems with diarrhea. They often cry because they are hungry, and I don't know if they will get TB from me.

My employer tells us that the quality of what we produce has to match global competition, that is, our goods have to match the quality of similar goods at a low price. So they won't raise our pay, and they punish us if the clothes have defects.

I can't see any way out of my situation. In my mind I am one of the many millions of losers exploited by this globalization process.


This story raises questions about:

Poverty and the distribution of wealth

Labor conditions, Labor policy, and Human rights

Transnational Corporations

Third World Debt and the International Monetary Fund(IMF)

Impact of Global Trade on Third World Health Care

Globalization of Infectious Diseases


While Tranh Li is a fictional character, her story is based on actual events and conditions in the lives of people in Thailand. Tranh Li is a 23 year old factory worker whose husband died last year, leaving her with two children to support. She faces poverty and health problems, and wants to know how global trade is affecting her life.

The story of Tranh Li reveals how a transnational corporation called RAGS, a hypothetical company modeled on real international businesses, deals with its workers. You'll also be asked to examine links between poverty, the international movement of diseases, and the debt of third world countries affecting their health care policies.

Please listen carefully to Tranh Li's story, and answer for yourself the questions she asks about her situation.



1. How does my country, Thailand, benefit from the global economy?

2. Why won't RAGS pay me more?

3. What benefits do companies like RAGS get from factories overseas? What benefits do factory workers get?

4. Can others become ill because of me? Can globalization spread diseases worldwide?

5. To answers these questions well, what do you still need to know about Tranh Li and her situation? For example, how much of her story do you believe and why?

6. What might her employer at RAGS, a health official in Thailand, or a globalization protester have to say about Tranh Li's circumstances?



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