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Ethnic Burmese women falling prey to trafficking

Aug 05, 2008

Worsening economic and political conditions in Myanmar are forcing Kachin women to migrate to China, thus making them vulnerable to trafficking. Eastward Bound, a report published by Burma Digest highlights this grave violation of human rights and urges authorities to address the problem with corrective measures.

Eastward Bound

Publisher: Burma Digest, 2008

The report documents trafficking cases involving ethnic Burmese girls and women. As political and economic conditions inside Burma continue to deteriorate, more and more Kachin women are migrating to China in search of work and are ending up as forced brides there.

The main causes of migration from Kachin areas of Burma have only intensified over the years. The military junta has exploited the region’s natural resources and plans to dam the rivers for electricity leading to widespread displacement of local people.

Communities are being driven off their land by military confiscation of their farms for large scale plantations of crops such as rubber and sugar.

Such policies are forcing people to migrate to support their families, making women vulnerable to trafficking. Women cross borders to pay for school fees, medical expenses.

About a quarter of those trafficked were under 18, with girls as young as 14 forced to be brides. 

The continuing high incidence of trafficking indicates that the regime’s anti-trafficking law passed in September 2005 is failing to have any impact in curbing the problem. Provisions in the new law are not being adhered to.

Women report that Chinese police have been helpful in assisting them to return to Burma but have sometimes demanded compensation from Burma border officials for repatriating trafficking victims.

The solution is not to criminalise the practice as people are crossing borders for their survival. The report urges the stakeholders to address this human rights issue holistically and not to be complicit with the regime in further abuse of people’s rights under the guise of preventing trafficking.

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