Conflicts in Burma fuel human trafficking
New figures show dramatic increase – Rohingya are especially vulnerable (Press Release)
The ongoing ethnic conflicts in Burma are fueling human trafficking. As the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) stated in Göttingen on Tuesday, it is especially women and girls belonging to ethnic minorities – such as the Rohingya or the Kachin – who become victims of unscrupulous human traffickers. "The plight of the refugees is fueling crimes against humanity and the horrific business of trafficking abducted women and girls from Burma. Not even children are safe," warned Ulrich Delius, the STP's director. About 70 percent of the victims of global trafficking in women come from the Asia-Pacific region. In Thailand and Malaysia, where more and more cases of illegal trafficking in women have recently become known, the situation is particularly dramatic. In 2019, according to official figures from Thailand, it was possible to rescue twice as many victims as in the previous year.
A large proportion of the 1,807 victims who were rescued from the hands of traffickers in Thailand last year were Rohingya women. Three quarters of the illegally detained women were from Burma. The situation in neighboring Malaysia is similar. There, too, it is mainly Rohingya women and girls who are forced to work as prostitutes. They are often lured out of refugee camps in Bangladesh under false promises of legal work as housemaids or saleswomen, then forced into prostitution when they arrive in Malaysia or Thailand. There is also an increasing number of Rohingya women who are forced into prostitution in India. "Due to the misery and hopelessness in the refugee camps of Bangladesh, they are a breeding ground for human trafficking and forced prostitution", Delius criticized. If the people had a realistic prospect of returning to their homeland or living a dignified life in Bangladesh, they would not become victims of unscrupulous traffickers.
Official bodies are involved in human trafficking as well. In Thailand or Malaysia, for example, several police officers have been arrested for covering up or being involved in human trafficking. Shortly before New Year's Day, a police officer was arrested in Thailand. He is seen as the mastermind of a gang of people traffickers. "Of course, it is important to fight human trafficking by all legal means. However, this does not eliminate the causes of the dramatic situation of many refugee women and girls," Delius warned.
Kachin women from northern Burma are increasingly becoming victims of human trafficking as well. At least 110,000 people, mainly women and children, are on the run from clashes between the Burmese army and the Kachin movement in Kachin State, which is fighting for more autonomy. "Again and again, Kachin women are lured to China with false promises of work, then forced to marry there," Delius said. Chinese men will pay up to 7,000 US dollars for a kidnapped Kachin woman.