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Economic mismanagement exacerbates human and sexual trafficking

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Human and sexual trafficking in Burma has been pushed up by economic mismanagement and human rights abuses in the military ruled country, a new report said.

Woman and Child Rights Project (WCRP) of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) in a new report released on Monday said many Burmese children and women are becoming victims of human trafficking because they are left with few alternatives to eke out a living.

“Systemic and structural discrimination” and the, “harsh economic reality” under the military regime has driven Burmese women and children to became victims of human and sexual trafficking, Mi Jarai Non, Coordinator of the WCRP said.

In many cases, Mi Jarai Mon said, Burmese people are tempted to go out of the country in search of greener pastures as living conditions are deteriorating at home, and they often become victims of human traffickers.

“It has become extremely difficult for people to get jobs in Burma and even those who are lucky to get jobs, their wages are too little to support them and their family,” she added.

Often, traffickers promise to provide well-paid jobs, but when they have left the country, many are sold to sex industries and to other jobs were discrimination is rampant, she added.

The 90-page report, titled ‘Nowhere Else To Go” documented sexual trafficking and human rights abuses committed against Burmese women and children, mostly between the age group of 10 to over 40, from 19 Townships in Mon and Karen State, Tenasserim, Pegu, Rangoon and Mandalay Divisions.

The report is based on interviews conducted with 71 victims, who were being trafficked between 2004 to 2009, and explains the causes of sexual trafficking and the horrendous experiences faced by the victims.

“The number of victims of sexual trafficking included in the report represents only a small percentage of the instances of sexual trafficking from Burma to Thailand and other neighbouring countries,” Mi Jarai Non said.

“Several Burmese women in sexual rackets in Thailand still remain out of reach,” she added.

Despite efforts to help the women to come out of sex trade, Mi Jarai Noi said some victims are reluctant to give up their work in sexual rackets because they felt useless as they had already lost their virginity.

“For the first time, I had to sleep with an old Thai man. That is how I lost my virginity that night,” the WCRP quoted a woman, who was sold to a Thai businessman by a sexual trafficker in Thailand as saying.  

Despite Burma being a party to anti-trafficking protocols from the United Nations in 2004, having a National Plan of Action for Trafficking Women and Children and a national taskforce in 1998, widespread corruption and involvement of Burmese authorities such as the police and military officers in the sex trade makes action ineffective, the report said.

“The regime said it had committed to fight to end human trafficking. In reality, the authorities themselves are involved in the sexual rackets in the country and this has contributed to the increase of human trafficking,” Mi Jarai Noi said.  

The WCRP in its report said, not only is there the regime’s economic mismanagement, the increased militarization in rural and border areas, the impact of Cyclone Nargis which lashed delta regions in southern Burma in May 2008 and the global economic crisis had left many Burmese women in southern Burma starving and forced them to migrate to neighbouring countries.

“Because of this lack of support spending for basic elements of civilian life, as well as the direct assault of a heavily militarized state, women are often in the position of having no options but to travel abroad for work, and subsequently become victims of human and sexual trafficking,” said the report.

The WCRP urged the Thai government to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to civilians, who have fled from human rights abuses in Burma and to broaden the opportunities for legal migration both for humanitarian and economic reasons.

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 August 2009 22:04 )  

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