Chiang Mai - Economic hardship and poverty have caused several young women in Burma, particularly in regions where ethnic minorities are residing, to be an easy prey of human trafficking, an ethnic Kachin women group said in a new report.
The Thailand based Kachin Women's Association of Thailand (KWAT) in a new report release today reveal that several young women from northern Burma's Kachin state are being sold by traffickers to Chinese men, who forcibly marry them or use them as maids and slaves.
The report titled 'Eastward Bound', which is based on interviews with 163 human trafficking victims from 2004 to 2007, said nearly 37 per cent of the trafficked women ended up as wives of Chinese men, while about 4 percent are sold as housemaids or to the sex industry.
Julia, who did the research on the report said, about 64 percent of the women trafficked are missing while about 17 percent are found to have made their way home back after escaping from the traffickers.
She said, most of the women trafficked are below the age of 18 and are made vulnerable to traffickers due to difficult economic conditions at home to keep them and their families alive.
Julia said several of the girls are sold while they are working to earn a living for themselves or for their families, or while seeking for jobs, due to severe economic conditions at home.
While several girls are smuggle from Burma to China by the traffickers, many of the girls left their hometown voluntarily and migrate in search of better jobs and better living, the report said.
Shirley Seng, spokeswoman of KWAT said, the main causes of human trafficking are economic hardship and deterioration, constant feared among the people of human rights violations committed by military junta and forced relocation.
She also added that rising commodity prices has also become a major driving force to young women to migrate.
Most of the victims belong to ethnic Kachin, Shan as well as Burman and Chinese from Mandalay, Rangoon and Pyinmana towns and Kachin State, the report said.
After women are sold, many of them are made to stand in front of Chinese men, mostly farmers, who then choose from the girls to be their brides and pay approximately 13,000 Chinese Yuan (USD 2,000), the report details.
Despite the Burmese military junta's 'Human Trafficking Law' enacted in September 2005, law enforcement fail to curb the practices of this widespread human trafficking business, the report said.
Shirley Seng said the law is ineffective as it fail to provide protection to the girls who luckily escape from the traffickers.
"Many of the victims are denied protection by the authority even when they seek after escaping and arriving back at the border. Officers often swear at them and turn them away," Shirley Seng said.
Gwan Khaung, who help in compiling the report said, while the number of victims is rising at an alarming rate, the human trafficking law under the military rule seems meaningless as junta themselves are involve in violating the rights of the girls.
"Besides, the Junta's policies are the major driving force for the people to migrate," Gwan Khaung added.
The report said, a few victims have tried and approach for help at the Burmese embassy in Beijing. However, they are turned away, while a few of them were accused of being the traffickers and were arrested.
The report details that a woman victims, who was arrested for being the trafficker was abused and raped while in detention.
The report said, human trafficking is a result of decades of economic deterioration that caused severe poverty among the people, and political unrest and civil war.
Shirley Seng said the international community should carefully study the continuous human trafficking cases in Burma and not be misled by the bogus anti-human trafficking campaign of the junta.
"[I]n fact their campaign worsens human right situation in Burma and encourages more human right violations. There must be a short term solution for this problem and also there must be political change in Burma for a long term solution," Shirley Seng added.
KWAT had earlier published a similar human trafficking report titled 'Driven Away' in 2005, which details trafficking of Kachin women. The report was translated in Thai, English, Burmese and Japanese languages.