Myanmar: Human Trafficking Driven by Forced Marriages
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 3:45 PM

23 March 2010

In 2009, two-thirds of the human trafficking cases uncovered by the Myanmar Police Force’s anti-trafficking unit involved the forced marriage of girls and women in China. Attracted by the promise of a relatively high-paying job, women were then sold off to men in China according to a spokesperson from the United Nations Inter-Agency Project (UNIAP) on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.

“Most of the trafficked Myanmar women were sold to men in villages and poor communities in China, where Chinese men do not think of this practice as trafficking; instead they consider it as paying a dowry,” said Daw Ohnmar Ei Ei Chaw, UNIAP national project coordinator.

The price paid for a trafficked woman ranges from $2900 to $5800 depending on the woman’s looks and age. Myanmar women are particularly attractive to Chinese men because of their lower “dowry” compared to Chinese women. In addition, they are perceived to be more obedient and as foreigners have little chance for recourse. China’s one-child policy, which has resulted in a population ratio of 120 men for 100 women, might also be at fault, making China a major source, transit, and destination point for human trafficking.

While many of the human trafficking victims are from poor families, Daw Ohnmar Ei Ei Chaw noted that it is not always the case: “[Trafficking] can happen to anyone. We have trafficking victims who are university graduates, people from better-off families, male and married women.”

Compiled from: Juliet Shwe Gaung, “Forced Marriages Driving Human Trafficking, UN Says,” Myanmar Times Online (4 March 2010).