4.2 Myanmar as the Major Sending Community in the Subregion
(1) Military Regime and Human Rights Violations: The Push Factor
There are several push factors determining the migration of civilian in Myanmar to the countries nearby, especially to Thailand. Economic necessity is often seen as the prime motivation for the existence of child trafficking from Myanmar to other countries. Through observations, interviews and relevant documents, the motivated factors, however, are evidently rooted from the three following modes.
(a) Economic Hardship: Since 1989, grassroots people in Myanmar have faced increasing starvation primarily because various forms of fees have been increased in both form of fees and amount of each fee. Some examples are labour fees, porter fees, or forced money for infrastructure construction. In rural areas, each family is forced not only to pay a total of 1,000 Kyat per month, but also to sell their rice and other crops production to the government at an unfair low price. Moreover, any military unit passing a village may ask for contribution of rice without paying. In many areas, forced relocations are undertaken to develop infrastructure projects in the areas such as railway construction, gas pipeline construction, or tourism purposes. Both situations have caused the reduction of opportunity to work because the military continues to detain civilians to work as porters or as forced labourers, especially on infrastructure projects. In the meantime, the cost of living has alarmingly increased. The value of Kyat is unstable and was dropping continually even before the economic crisis in Asian countries.
(b) A Vulnerable Society: The sanitation in Myanmar is considered sub- standard. People rarely Understand about AIDS, reproductive hygiene, or even fundamental sanitation. According to the UNICEF report (1995), child mortality is 14.7 per cent. and the maternal mortality rate is very high, with half of the death the result of abortion. Although there are adequate primary schools for members of the population in Myanmar, economic reasons as well as minorities' mistrustful feelings toward the government have caused 39 per cent of children to have never attended school, and only 25 per cent graduated from primary schools. In Shan state, where a large number of young women have been trafficked to Thailand, only 17 per cent had graduated at a primary school level. The fact is that the rate of attaining compulsory education level has also dropped 55 per cent (UNICEF 1995) Universities and high schools have been in the cycle of closing down n and reopening since 1988.

A story of Mong Win, a 17 years old Burman from Mon State.
He has worked in Thailand since he was 15.
At the time of the interview, he was injured by an accident at a construction site.

I left Myanmar when I was 15.  I was a junior high school student then.  It was too bad that the school was always closed and reopened all the time.  I thought I'd better find a job to help my family.  My father supported the whole family.  He was a government employee.  He earned only 900 Kyat a month.  I worked as a labourer at the port.  I earned 2 Baht (0.05 USD) for a bas I carry on the should.  After that I worked in Malaysia and then returned home.  As I continued my education in college, it was closed again.  So I came here to work.  I don't know whether I will go back to the college if the college is reopened again.

(interviewed on October 19, 1997)

(c) Impacts of Long Time Civil War: Myanmar's long-running civil and organic conflicts have been significant factor, among others, pushing people to move to Thailand.Whose Civilians whose home towns are in war-zone areas are forced to relocate to deprive the minority armed forces of their support. These casualties of war have experienced violence, separation, and emptiness. In worse cases, girls were raped in front of their families and friends. All of these factors together have exerted pressure on children and women to easily become the prey of human traffickers. None of them intend to enter sex industry. However, they are lured and deceived by various means to ultimately become prostitutes.
(2) Sending Communities in Myanmar (see Map 2)
(2.1) Minority Communities Adjacent to Thai Borders
(a) Shan State: Shan State has its border connecting to the northern part of Thailand. It is the territory of 'Tai people'6   with several other minorities such as Akha, Lisu, Wa, Pa-Long, Musur, Hau-Chinese and Pa-O. After Myanmar gained independence from the United Kingdom, the territory of Shan State was combined as part of Myanmar. From then, the population of Shan State has faced endless and violent race-related conflicts. Minorities fled and they formed several aimed groups.7 Sometimes they have conflicts among themselves about judicial territory and profits from drug smuggling. Compared to other territories in Myanmar, Shan State is considered isolated because of their different cultures and languages. There are very few Burma in the area. Sanitation and hygiene standards are very low especially in the rural areas because they can not be reached by the government or because of the ignorance of the government. Meanwhile, the areas where the government has completely taken over were transformed to become business and tourism areas.
As the poverty among the population increased, human traffickers had greater opportunities. People living close to the border who were not under protection of their own armed forces started to migrate. It could be said that this group of people has probably become the first victims of human trafficking for sexual purpose. Eastern Shan State has become the biggest sending community of children and women trafficked to Thailand by various methods varying from deception, luring, to voluntary practices. In other parts of Shan State which are still under war conditions, there are a lot of people who fled to Thailand broken family. They are forced to leave by coercion and arson for the purpose of reducing the number of Tai Yai people who would possibly join the armed forces. However, the number of children and women brought into sex industry is very limited. There is no such thing as systematic sex industry agent network. Therefore the conclusion that 'Tai Yai people like prostitution' is the conclusion of incomplete information.

 

Map 1: Communities of Origin
of Child Labourers in Myanmar

Map 1: Communities of Origin of Child Labourers in Myanmar (568201 bytes)

Tai people value the same belief as those in other parts of Asia, that is virginity symbolizes 'good woman.' Although some minorities do not share tile same value, it does not mean that prostitution is a tradition of the groups. It takes quite a long time for the community in eastern Shan State to believe that sex trade is a common practice for women. Those women ate welcomed home and regarded as honorable and necessary to the family. Many ex-sex workers have become leaders of women and children traffickers themselves (Archavanitkul and Koetsawang 1997). There are also sex establishments similar to those in Thailand opening in tourists city like Kengtung. Ignorance from government could be implied as an indirect support for the purpose of tourism promotion. This crisis is very similar to the one in northern Thailand, except the pushing forces in Myanmar are much stronger. Also the alternatives of Shan community make it seem as if there is no other choice.
(b) Mon State, Karen State, and Tassanarim Division. The three districts consist of several ethnic minorities: Mon. Karen, Tawai, Burman, and Indian- Burman. After the Mon army was defeated, the Mon people have fallen into a worse condition without support. The emerging of governmental big projects such as railway construction and gas pipeline construction from Yadana to Thailand have caused them to leave those areas. Migration of people, forced labour and slavery-like labour have occurred consequently. People in this area flooded across borders for better lives. When the Mon refugee camps were moved from Thailand's territory to Myanmar, the area called Holock ani became the focal point for cross-Border labour trade. Mon and Tawai people usually travel in big groups. Women and children traveling with their relatives are likely to be separated after entering Thailand. Because Burman people do not usually travel with their families, there are higher chances that the women would be tricked, deceived, or hired from the country of origin.
In the suburb areas of Karen state, large numbers of Indian- Berman are found. These people work as general labourers and small scale trading rather than in agriculture industry. Indian Burman who live in the suburb areas have continually migrated to live with their relatives in the areas opposite Myawadi city of Karen State which makes the areas become big communities. From this area, children are trafficked to Bangkok for the purpose of begging and soliciting business, which will be mentioned in the following chapter. Karen communities which are dispersed along the highlands from Karen state, Mon. to Tassnarim are more isolated. In the past years, Karen people who travel to work in Thailand were likely to live in the area close to the city, live with other ethnic groups, or live with their families or relatives around border areas of Thailand. However, the Karen armed forces were completely defeated at the beginning of 1997. This situation pushed an increasing number of Karen refugees to Thailand as well as an increasing number of Karen moving across the border to find jobs. In relation to this incidence, groups of young Karen women around 14-15 years old have been brought to be housemaids and labourers in several provinces including Bangkok. Moreover, the number of Karen girls and women trafficked into prostitution have been increasing alarmingly despite the fact that a year prior this study they were rarely found in the sex work in Thailand (World Vision Thailand 1997; Archavanitkul and Koetsawang 1997).
(c) Kayah or Karenni State. Kayah state is isolated because of its closed land. It is the habitat of Karen-Kayah, Kayang (Padaung-long neck), Karen-Pagagayor, and several Tai Yai. Nowadays, Karenni's armed troops are still in control of the border areas. People who are forced to live in semi-restricted areas have escaped to stay under the protection of the troops in places which become a big refugee camp. People who work in Thailand are from the suburb of Lai-Kha which is the capital of the state, and also from the Border areas. There has not been a heavy migration since there is a camp that provides shelter. In addition, there is no agent network in the area and Mae Hong Son, which is the closest city to Kayah is far away from other cities. Therefore, it is quite difficult to lure the women from Kayah to enter the sex business or other extreme forms of child labour. However, these girls could be tricked or lured individually after arriving in Thailand.
(2.2) The Inner Community
Inner community in this report refers to other states and other divisions of Myanmar, including the western and northern territory which shares its border with Bangladesh, India, and China. The majority of the population in inner communities dispersed along various divisions are Mon. Indian-Burman, Karen, and other races. Along the western border, there are Kachin, Chin and Buddhist Ya-Kai, and Muslim Robingyah who were denied for both nationality and civil rights. Some Rohingyah escaped and returned to their country of origin in Bangladesh but some headed to Muslim communities in Malaysia and Bangkok. There are groups of elderly Rohingyah women joining begging gangs in Bangkok.
The inner community is the area which best reaches governmental service including sanitation and educational service. However, these social services are still considered sub-standard. Low-income populations have to face such problems as unemployment, disintegrating family, homeless children, and lack of educational opportunities. Homeless children are at a great risk of being sexually abused or lured and trafficked, especially young girls. Even educated girls in city areas like Mandalay or Rangoon are also lured to work in the sex business at Kawtaung, Tachilek, or Thai border. After that they would be sent to further places. Information obtained from the interviews with authorities in southern provinces of Thailand indicates that there are over 50 street boys who are sons of illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar, found begging and soliciting in Narativas, a Thai-Malaysia Border province.
Community's point of view to cross-border child labourers and sex business: According to a research report of a private firm submitted to UNDP (Envipro 1997), in the area which the research was conducted, 85 per cent of population stated that going to prostitutes and sexual relationships before marriage are unacceptable practices for them. AIDS awareness rate were quite high but people have never received complete and precise information. Only half of the population knew what a condom really was. Prostitutes were blamed for spreading HIV rather than pointing at men. This implies that if any girls or women have fallen into the sex business by any means, it is almost impossible for them to return home. Moreover, she would feel too worthless to change her way of life.
(2.3) The Border Community Border
(a) Border Cities: Kawtaung, Tachilek, and and Myawadi T These cities arc important gateways to Thailand with cross-border trading, and people crossing the border for business. There is a strong network of human trafficking which is always ready to operate the business. Lifestyle in this area is largely influenced by Thailand as clearly indicated by merchandise goods, culture and entertainment. The number of sex establishments in these cities has increased over time. The style of the establish ments have obviously been duplicated from those in Thailand. There has recently been cooperation between NGOs across borders concerning AIDS in the 3 provinces.

In Tachilek, it can be seen that Tai people who have moved here for a long time started to settle down with houses and different kinds of small~scale business. These are partially the fruits of working children and women. Tachilek has become a touring spot, and Karaoke-brothels have been set up. The salary of the workers is paid in Thai Baht. The two Men are both internally trafficked and deceived from border areas. Kawtaung Ranong is also the focal point of labour trafficking because it is a port city connecting to Thailand. Myawadi is relatively small compared to the first two cities. A businessman in Myawadi told the research team has given the information that there is a bus full loaded with 10 people running from inner Myanmar passing several check points to the city of Myawadi. There are a hundred busses operating in a day. On the returning trips, there are only half the number of passengers going back.8

Community's point of views, to cross Border children labour and sex business: In Tachilek, the attitude towards sex trade has gone beyond those in Kawtaung. The reason behind this attitude is that Takllilek is an important gateway of children and won en trafficking,, routes. Sex business is operated in an open manner. Crossing Thailand 's border to work in sex industry is no longer uncommon. Many girls and young women want to follow on the path of making fast money and working in the sex trade seems to be the only choice for them. Although Kawtaung's community is considered fragile, and the community is familiar to sex establishments in the local area, the network of women trafficking for sexual purpose is not as open as in Takchilek. Therefore acceptance in this content refers to familiarization with the sex industry rather than complete acceptance.

A story of Non, a 19 years old Thai Lue woman from Tachilek, Shan State.
She started career as a prostitute when she was about 16.

My parents moved to thacjilek when I was small.  I did not study Burmese in School but I studied Thai in Maesai.  After I could read and write, I stayed home doing crochet work.  At the same time, there was a Japanese man in Mae Hong Son who wanted to pay 375 USD for my virginity.  I consulted my father and he agreed.  He said that someday I had to have sexual intercourse anyway.  I did it twice for two Japanese men.  I continued doing crochet work for a year and I got bored.  I saw my friend going to work and I wanted to earn money too.  I sent some of my money back home and saved some.  After I worked for 2 years, I got bored again.  Then I became a singer.  I was also a service girl once in a while.

(Interviewed many times, the latest was on late August 1997)

(2.4) Refugees Camps Along the Border
Refugee camps along the Border of Thailand-Myanmar have sheltered approximately a hundred thousand refugees (Archavanitkkul 1998b). The majority of them are Karen-Pagagayor. These areas are in transition to become major sending communities of children and women trafficking and should be monitored very closely. For instance, there were a case of seven Kayang (Padong - long neck) families were lured from the camp located in Mae Hong Son to work in a tourist place in Mae Eye district, Chiengmai province in early 1997. These 33 Padongs including parents with 20 kids aged under 10 years old were strictly confined in the place like a zoo waiting for Thai and foreign tourists to come, watch and take pictures. They were rescued by the Coalition to Fight Against Child Exploitation (FACE), a Thai NGO in August 1997 (Srisung 1998).
In some camps which have been there for over 10 years such as Huay Kha Lok, Maesod district of Tak province, people are loosing their cultures and living more arid more like homeless people. The new generation are growing up without being socialized by their own strong culture which supposedly bonded them to nature and the agricultural community. Consumerism from the outside world has influenced these landless people as indicated by the fact that young men and women have ambitious dreams to work in Thailand for better lives. In accordance with the unstable situation that Myanmar's military has attacked and burned down several camps, innocent young girls are highly at risk to easily become victims for the traffickers. Staff of a NGO working with this group of displaced people stressed that a number of girls were persuaded to leave the camps. Although there is no evidence shows that where these girls went, there is a report which indicated that Karen girls and women have been found in sex establishments which has never happened before (World Vision Thailand 1997). According to the interviews with Karen refugees, it seems that 'women trade' for them means 'labour trade' tied with debt bondage. Sonic of them said that in this extreme situation they and their family members were willing to be bonded labour without knowing what kind of job they have to perform. They honesty believed that if they work harder, they could pay off the debt faster and could earn some saving later on.
(2.5) Bordering Cities in Thailand Territory
Other major sending communities for children and women trafficking are bordering provinces opposite to Thachilek, Kawtung and Myawadi: Chiang Rai's Maesai district, Tak's Maesod district, and Ranong's Muang district. Many communities are of ethnic minorities who moved from Myanmar. A large number of children born or growing up here have no nationality. Some might have migrated for a long time yet still they have not received national) y, as the Thai state granted only the permission to live.9 Some have been granted Thai nationality. Research suggests that these communities are locations where a network of trafficking agents have operated since the early 1980s before expanding their business across he border. It is found that many families sold their daughters to sex agents (Archavanitkul 1994).

A 17 years old stateless girl, Daw,
now lives in Maesai. Her.parents moved from Kengtung
13 years ago.
She has almost completed upper secondary education from informal schooling, voluntarily works as a teacher for a local NGO at the time of the interview.

Most of my friends living around here are T ai Yai and they are prostitutes. There seems to be nothing else to do T hey don't have any nationality like myself. Their new houses are from prostitution. Formerly, people say that Akha forcibly sold their daughters for prostitution. The situtation has changed now. Their daughters voluntarily work. Sometimes I feel very upset.  My mother, has a difficult life. She works for 2 USD a day. My father is unemployed. He is absent minded and very moody. When I see my prostitute friends whose families are- well-living, I really feel something. I still don't know what kind of job I'm.gonna get after rny graduation. I am holding a blue card and I need permission before going an y where :here. No card, no job. I have not learnt a lot from the non-school education. I have no chance to study in a real school like other people...

(interview ed mamy times, the latest was on November 19, 1997)

The minorities living in this area are highly expected to settle down in Thailand and become Thai citizens. However settlement in Thailand requires much more efforts and expenses. The opportunity of getting jobs for stateless people is almost equal to that of illegal immigrants. Although Thailand's Ministry of Education has provided educational opportunity for stateless children, there are few families who can afford to send their children to school. In some areas, the' are not allowed to continue their education at an advanced level. Persons holding a color card are allowed to migrate crossing provincial border only with permission from the governor. While most jobs available in local areas are labour level, it is not difficult to induce children and women to work in a far away place for better earnings.
Community's point of Views to cross Border children labour and sex business. In Maesai, sex workers who succeed in their career are indicated by building a new house, buy a plot of land and a lot of consumer goods, have become role models for other young women. This value has been imprinted in the society the same way as it happened in northern Thailand before (Archavanitkul and Guest 1994). Many of them become sex agents who export young women from Myanmar.
In Ranong and Maesod, there is no systematic network of women trafficking. The trafficking is done individually. Maesod is a major sending community for Indian Burman children trafficking for begging and soliciting business. This Indian-Burman community has moved from Karen State to Yangon city. Most of them are poor and have big families regarding their religious belief. A number of Muslim children have been seen soliciting in Maesod regularly. Some of these children were beggars before they were sold. Their society does not perceive this practice improper. In contrast, people believe that children are owned by their parents and that begging is a common kind of job. When parents have sold their children, they usually believe that their children would have better lives in Bangkok. Children themselves are willing to go if they have friends going along. The gatekeepers of this business are local Indian-Burman. However they do not view this business as a big money-maker business. This attitude is probably a specific case of this group. Since there is no other group such as Burman, Mon. or Tai Yai engaging in this business.

A story told by staff of a NGO provided shelter to
Muhammed and Nuruh, a 12 and 13 year old boy respectively
before they return to Mae Sod.

Muhammed and Nuruh are relative.  They either sold facial tissue or begged for money in Bangkok.  If they could not sell at least 7.5 USD daily, they would be beaten by an electric wire.  In fact, Muhammed's father was killed in Bangkok.  His mother sells "Rotee".  Nobody knows how it ended up this way.  Before sending them back to Maesod.  Nuruh's mother told us to send Nuruh to live with Muhammed's mother.  If we could not find her, send them back to Maesod later.  We searched for her but somebody told us that the women had returned home.  so we took both of them backed to Maesod.
In the past, Nuruh lived in Yangon.  But after the death of his grandfather who migrated from Indies, the whole family has lost Burmese nationality.  After the 1988, protest movement in Yangon, his family moved to Maesod.  He was 5 years old at that time.  His parents earned them living by collecting garbage.  Then they sold Nuruh to work in Bangkok.  When we took him back, they were happy to see their son again.  But we do not know what is going to happen net because we have heard that he already came back to Bangkok.  I do not know if it is true or not.

(Interviewed many times, the latest was on December 19, 1997)

6 In this report, 'Tad people' refers to Tai family: Tai Yai, Tai Lue, Tai Kheen, Tai Kuan, and so on.
Minority troops include Go-gang Chinese, Red Wa, Palong, Pa-O, and other several Tai Yai groups.
8 The route from inner Myanmar to Myawadi is a one-way road.  The inbound/outbound direction is allowed on alternate days.   Therefore, there are passengers travelling to Myawadi city for only 15 days monthly.  In one month, there are approximately 7,500 people who do not return.
9 Stateless people and minorities in Thailand are registered and fussed a colour card with special reference to their groups: for instance, a blue card for highland people, a white card for KMT, and a pink card for displace people from Myanmar entering Thailand before 1976. They are usually allowed to work only within the province where they live (see more details in Archavanitkul and Koetsawang 1997b).
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