Call to Cease Production of The Onion's Thailand T-Shirt

Valerie Payne (’09) had been researching, writing and working against the tide of human trafficking that victimizes women and girls for a good portion of her law school career. Now, as an attorney with JustLaw, International, she is fighting the issue in the public square as well as the courtroom. See her article below that exhorts a marketing firm to make a positive difference, and be part of the solution to restore these victims to their families safely.

URGENT: Attention—The Onion, Public Relations, Customer Service & Marketing Departments
August 28, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

Millions of women and girls are sexually trafficked, raped, subjected to all forms of physical and verbal abuse, afflicted by a host of diseases, even murdered, or tossed aside to fend for themselves when they are no longer "marketable." This form of exploitation, which often takes place in context of prostitution, is known as human trafficking. The women and girls subjected to human trafficking have experienced unspeakable trauma—the type of trauma you would shudder to think of your own daughter ever experiencing. Like many others who care for the welfare of these abused women and girls, I have spent extensive time researching and writing about this issue. Modern day slavery is tied for one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. It is real. It is serious. And it is happening now, in America and all over the world.

I am writing to express my great offense at the apparel that is listed for sale at The Onion Store (http://store.theonion.com/my-friend-went-to-thailand-and-all-i-got-was-this-lousy-prostitute-new-p-1027.html ).* Not only is this distasteful, and certainly offensive to the millions who are personally subjected to this treatment by force, fraud, or coercion every day, it is highly inappropriate material for jest.

I hope that your organization comes to realize the reality and gravity of the sad situation of human trafficking. It has become a plague to not only our nation, but the world over. In America, this is a highly punishable federal crime and is criminalized in almost every state as well. In order to put an end to the atrocity and stomp out this criminal enterprise for good, it is vital that the issue is presented for what it is—a serious crime. Unfortunately, in passing this off as a mere laughing matter, your organization is working against the tide of those of us who are fighting to eradicate this evil.

On behalf of the many who are currently in the trenches fighting against human trafficking—and especially the sexual trafficking and enslavement of innocent girls from countries such as Thailand—we implore you to cease production, sale, and marketing of this offensive t-shirt immediately.

Thank you for your consideration about this important issue.

Valerie Payne
Just Law International, PC
Jubilee Campaign USA
9689-C Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22031

(*Editors note: Page now thankfully reads that the product is not currently available.  View an older version of the page here.)


  1. Valerie, thank you for sending this letter to the the Onion.
    The Onion has made a name for itself, it does offensive really well. By the way they are selling the shirt, its on sale http://store.theonion.com/product/my-friend-went-to-thailand-and-all-i-got-was-this,227/

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