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Human Trafficking Across Myanmar-China Border Continues to Increase

“Last year there were 40 cases last year, and at about this time last year we had 16 cases, but this year we’ve already had 19 cases"

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In a file photo, Marip Lu sits in her family's shelter in a refugee camp in northern Kachin State, Myanmar. She claims she was kidnapped by traffickers and suffered six years of captivity, rape and abuse deep in China. RFERL

The number of women from Myanmar being trafficked for marriage to Chinese husbands is increasing, according to statistics kept by officials stationed at the Myanmar-China border.

Police Chief Kyaw Nyunt of Myanmar’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force in Muse District explained that many of the women being trafficked are tricked into crossing the border with promises of a better life, but once they arrive in China, they are at the mercy of traffickers.

“Currently instances of brides being trafficked to China continues to increase,” said Kyaw Nyunt. “They lure [women] in various ways, like [advertising] job opportunities, but in most cases they are sold as brides to Chinese [men],” he said.

Statistics are finalized at the end of the calendar year, but according to the police chief, the trafficking in 2019 is occurring at a faster pace than it was in 2018. “Last year there were 40 cases last year, and at about this time last year we had 16 cases, but this year we’ve already had 19 cases,” he said.

“The main cause of trafficking is economic hardship,” said Nan Kham Mai, the Vice Chairwoman of the Shan Literature and Culture Association in Muse. Pixabay

Most of the trafficked victims are women from Central and Lower Myanmar, which, according to Unicef, are areas where poverty rates are in excess of 30% and reach as high as 46% in the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) region. Kyaw Nyunt said most come from the Yangon region.

“The main cause of trafficking is economic hardship,” said Nan Kham Mai, the Vice Chairwoman of the Shan Literature and Culture Association in Muse. She said that the trafficking situation would be less severe if the economy were better.

“Locals here have advantages with language skills and their ability to travel in and out of the region, so I think [trafficking] could ease a little once the economy gets better and there are more job opportunities. Traffickers usually lure [women away] with jobs, saying there’s a wage gap between our country and [China],” she said.

In an effort to educate the public about the dangers in trafficking, Muse district officials and civil society organizations launched their third annual anti-trafficking campaign on Friday, erecting billboards and holding a rally at the border crossing.

human trafficking
There are [many] cases of human trafficking between Myanmar and China, and women are subjected to violence and forced marriages. Pixabay
“There are [many] cases of human trafficking between Myanmar and China, and women are subjected to violence and forced marriages. We need to protect them,” said Maung Maung Win, secretary general of the local YMCA.

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“As part of our campaign, we are having public rallies and activities like sports, music and entertainment to get the public to join our movement,” he said.

The local YMCA itself has been campaigning against human trafficking for nine years, but the secretary general said that public support and cooperation with authorities and other groups was necessary in order to stop the traffickers. “We have a better chance to succeed once the government and philanthropic organizations join together,” he said. (VOA)

Reported by Ye Htet for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Nandar Chann. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Next Story

Saudi Arabia, Cuba on List of World’s Worst Fighters of Human Trafficking

The top U.S. diplomat said traffickers are currently victimizing nearly 25 million people worldwide

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human trafficking
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks on the release of the 2019 Trafficking in Person (TIP) Report at the US State Department in Washington, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) VOA

Saudi Arabia and Cuba are now on a list of countries the United States considers derelict in their responsibilities to combat human trafficking, raising the risk of sanctions against those countries.

In its annual report on human trafficking, the State Department accused ally Saudi Arabia of widespread violations involving foreign laborers and denounced Cuba for allegedly engaging in trafficking through its program that exports doctors abroad.

“If you don’t stand up to trafficking, America will stand up to you,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday in Washington, shortly after the report’s release. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) assesses what countries are doing to combat what Pompeo describes as “one of the most heinous crimes on Earth.”

The top U.S. diplomat said traffickers are currently victimizing nearly 25 million people worldwide. The State Department designated Saudi Arabia and Cuba as Tier 3 countries, the report’s lowest possible ranking. China, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela have also been designated as such.

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FILE – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. VOA

The U.S. said the Saudi kingdom has done little to help victims, choosing to, instead, jail, fine or deport them after accusing them of immigration violations or prostitution.Cuba, a long-time U.S. adversary, has threatened or coerced physicians to participate in its overseas medical program, the report said.

Some 8,300 Cuban medical workers who had been stationed in Brazil departed the country after President Jair Bolsonaro complained earlier this year the Cuban government keeps most of the wages paid to the workers, whom he described as “slave labor.

Tier 3 countries are subject to U.S. actions, including partial or total elimination of support from the International Monetary Fund or other international support organizations.

The U.S. president, however, can waive sanctions against Tier 3 countries with the hope it will encourage them act more aggressively against traffickers. Pompeo said the U.S. took actions last year against 22 Tier 3 countries.

human trafficking
The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) assesses what countries are doing to combat what Pompeo describes as “one of the most heinous crimes on Earth.” Flickr

The State Department report, which assesses 187 countries, concluded many world governments have enacted laws to hold traffickers accountable since the 2000 adoption of the United Nation’s Palermo Protocol. The pact requires countries to codify human trafficking as a crime both within and between countries.

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But the report calls on countries to do more to ensure protections for victims within their borders. Greater protections requires “political courage” to investigate “official power structures,” for example, and to “ending impunity for crimes that have long been seen as accepted local and cultural practices.”

“Acknowledging human trafficking within the borders of a country is not easy,” the report declared. “Governments should be willing to admit its existence and rise to their responsibility to address it.” (VOA)