At least 13 girls of Lao ethnic descent have been rescued by Thai police after being forced into prostitution.
Undercover officers started investigating a karaoke bar in Chumphon province, southern Thailand, after being tipped off about prostitution taking place there, officials said.
Police said that six of the 13 girls were underage and they were forced to work against their will.
The owner of the bar faces charges of human trafficking, soliciting prostitution and racketeering.
The rescue shed light on the issue of child prostitution in Thailand, which has a high incidence of children being forced to work as sex slaves.
Child Prostitution in Thailand is Widespread
According to Ecpat, an NGO which aims to protect children worldwide against any form of sexual exploitation, due to the hidden nature of child sexual abuse reliable figures are hard to compile and cases difficult to document. However, estimates suggest that some 30,000 to 40,000 children, not including foreign children, are exploited as prostitutes in Thailand every year.
Sexual exploitation of children in Thailand is influenced by tourism.
"In Pattaya [Thailand], if there were fewer foreign people coming in to buy sex, then the problem would be easier to manage," Palissorn Noja, who runs Pattaya's Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Centre, said in an interview with the Huffington Post.
"They [pedophiles] have an entire worldwide network of people looking for children through human trafficking. And sex tourism makes it harder to stop."