Tailor Shop Family Accused of Abuse and Enslavement to be Formally Charged

By Htun Htun 23 May 2017

RANGOON — On Thursday a court will decide on the charges with which to prosecute six family members for torturing and enslaving two children in a downtown Rangoon tailoring shop for five years.

Ko Latt, 63, Tin Thuzar, 59, Tin Min Latt, 37, Yarzar Tun, 25, Su Mon Latt, 27, and Thiri Latt, 37, who ran Ava tailor shop and factory in Kyauktada Township, are currently detained in Insein Prison and will be present at the session at Rangoon’s West District Court.

The court will decide under which laws to prosecute the individuals, as well as hear the testimony of the defendants and prosecution witnesses, defense lawyer U Myo Nyunt told reporters.

Police arrested the family members last September after it was found that the girls from Kawhmu Township had been forced into domestic servitude.

Police and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement initially charged the six family members under Burma’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, 1993 Child Law and under Articles 325 and 326 of the penal code for assault. Violations of the anti-trafficking law carry a sentence of ten years to life in prison, while the child law prescribes up to two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine. Convictions for assault are accompanied by a prison sentence of seven years to life.

The two girls, Ma San Kay Khaing, 17, and Ma Tha Zin, 18, suffered five years of abuse at the hands of the owners of the tailoring factory before the case came under the spotlight in August 2016.

Ma San Kay Khaing received treatment at Rangoon General Hospital for more than five months for burns, broken fingers and flesh wounds reportedly inflicted with knives and scissors.

The two girls said they had worked as housemaids at the shop since they were around age 10. They escaped from the slave-like conditions after Myanmar Now news agency launched an investigative report into the allegations of abuse.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.