Sino-Burmese Border Sees Majority of Human Trafficking Rescues

By Lawi Weng 8 August 2014

RANGOON — Burma’s anti-human trafficking police made most of their rescues along the Sino-Burmese border in the first seven months of the year, helping 42 Burmese women there to escape forced marriages, labor exploitation and other human rights abuses.

“We rescued 42 women [on the border] from January to July, but there were 18 cases where could not make the rescue,” Ohn Mar, the deputy police chief of the national anti-human trafficking unit in Naypyidaw, told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

Sixty human-trafficking cases nationwide  were reported through July. The majority of rescues, 22 women, were made in Shan State.

Burmese women living often impoverished existences in border areas are lured by promises of a better life and well paid work on the other side of the border.

“They easily trust brokers and they want to work. But instead they find that they are trafficked by the brokers. Some people were trafficked twice,” Ohn Mar said.

She said that in many cases, Chinese men bought women from brokers in Burma and took them over the border to marry them. Other women are forced to work and face other forms of labor exploitation.

In China, the ratio of men to women is skewed toward the former, owing to the country’s one-child policy, with the gender disparity leading Chinese men to seek brides overseas. On the Burmese side, poverty leads to victims’ vulnerability.

“The people do not have jobs, and they went to find a job in China. This is how human trafficking happens,” Ohn Mar said.

Last year, 102 human-trafficking cases were reported , according to Ohn Mar. In 2012, the figure was 120.

Burma cooperates with China in anti-human trafficking efforts, including jointly operated liaison offices along the border.

But Ohn Mar said police still struggled to combat trafficking, owing to the sheer magnitude of the task, which includes policing illegal crossings along the two countries’ 2,200-km shared border.

“There are many illegal border crossings. We cannot deploy our police to all points,” she said.