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Burma: conflict leads to spike in trafficking of Palaung minority
The Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO) has released a new report that explores and uncovers human trafficking in ethnic Palaung areas of Burma.
PWO has documented 72 cases of actual or suspected trafficking involving 110 people, which took place along the China-Burma border, mostly during the past six years. The majority of those trafficked were young Palaung women from tea farming communities in Namkham, Namhsan and Mantong townships.
PWO surveys in villages from which women have been trafficked show that up to 41% of the population have migrated to work elsewhere. Large scale migration began after the surrender in 2005 of the Palaung State Liberation Army, which had controlled Palaung areas under a ceasefire agreement since 1991. There has been a surge of Burma Army troops and proxy militia into the area since the surrender, who have imposed increased controls and taxes on agriculture and trading. Together with rising prices of food commodities from Central Burma, and increasing costs of health and education, this has meant that tea farmers can no longer earn a living and young people have to leave home to survive. This has led to an alarming increase in the incidence of trafficking of women, men and children, mainly to China.
Most of those trafficked were tricked into traveling to China by being offered well-paid jobs on farms or in factories. In 25% of the cases, women were forced to marry Chinese men, with brokers receiving up to 25,000 Yuan (approx 3,800 USD) for the transaction. 10% were forced into the sex trade. Some ended up being used as live feed for leeches. Known destinations were mainly in Yunnan province, but some ended up as far east as Shandong.
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