M Y A N M A R
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN MYANMAR
It is known that traffickers recruit men, women and children for the purpose of labour and sex trafficking in and outside of Myanmar, with some limited accounts of traffickers transporting foreign victims through the country on route to other destinations in Asia (USDOS, 2019: 120).
Some Burmese men and women who seek work abroad find themselves subject to sex or labour trafficking, particularly in Thailand and China, as well as other countries in Asia, the Middle East, and the United States (ibid). It has been estimated that, out of the 2.4 million migrants from surrounding countries in Thailand, the majority are from Myanmar (Meyer et al., 2014: 03). Some Burmese migrant workers find themselves exploited in industries such as domestic work, agriculture, fishing and seafood processing, factory work, and service industries, with many women and girls also finding themselves in the sex industry, or forced labor in garment manufacturing and domestic service (ILO, 2006: 70; USDOS, 2019: 120).
The 2019 Trafficking in Persons report states that “approximately one quarter of Burma’s residents continue to lack access to citizenship or identity documents.” This statelessness significantly increasing a person’s vulnerability to traffickers in Myanmar and in other countries. The 1982 Citizenship Law deemed that full citizenship is based solely on membership of the “national races” who are considered by the government to have settled in Myanmar prior to 1824, the date of first British occupation. Even with generations of residency, the Rohingya are not considered to be amongst these official indigenous races and are thus effectively excluded from full citizenship (BROUK, 2014). Inability to obtain citizenship increases the risk of trafficking and exploitation.
Myanmar was recently been downgraded by the US State Department with respect to its efforts to combat human trafficking. We work in the capital city of Yangon as well as the states of Chin, Shan and Kachin as these areas have significant human trafficking activity. Many Burmese children are trafficked domestically for labor as well as into neighbouring countries for child marriage, sexual enslavement, etc. Our coordinators work to form clubs and hold awareness campaigns to educate families about the risks of letting their children go away from home. They have also intercepted several trafficking rings and been able to restore children back home with their families.