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US State Department Trafficking In Persons Report June 2003 - 2003-06-17


Burma is a source country for persons trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation. Although the government has taken steps to combat trafficking for sexual exploitation, significant use of internal forced labor continues, especially by the military.

Burmese are trafficked mainly to Thailand, but also to China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Japan for sexual exploitation, as well as domestic and factory work. Internally, trafficking of women and girls for prostitution occurs from villages to urban centers and other areas, such as trucking crossroads, fishing villages, border towns, and mining and military camps.

The Government of Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The military is directly involved in forced labor trafficking. The ILO’s attempts to work with the government to address forced labor abuses have had only limited success.

Burma’s failure to make progress on forced labor more than offsets the government’s improving, but still inadequate, record of combating trafficking for sexual exploitation. The government has allowed some limited but important NGO and international organization activity to educate officials and vulnerable populations, and to assist trafficking victims returning from abroad.

Prevention Governmental measures to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation include publicizing the dangers in border areas via government-sponsored discussion groups, distribution of printed materials, and media programming. The government has worked with the UN to educate officials and potential victims on the nature of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The results are uneven and their effectiveness is often undercut by the repressive political climate in Burma and constrained by the government’s limited financial resources. Government involvement in forced labor continues.

Forced labor prevention efforts are limited to posting directives prohibiting such practices. The government has not publicly acknowledged that forced labor is a widespread problem and has rebuffed recommendations on prevention made by the ILO, which maintains an office in Rangoon.

Prosecution Burma lacks a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, but a combination of statutes against kidnapping and prostitution is used to arrest and prosecute offenders who traffick in persons for sexual exploitation. According to official government data, Burma prosecuted about 100 such traffickers over the last year.

Although information on convictions is incomplete, sentences reportedly ranged from 5 to 12 years, with most carrying a prison sentence of seven years. Corruption is a problem as some local and regional officials are suspected of turning a blind eye to trafficking.

The Burmese military has generally not implemented directives prohibiting forced labor trafficking, while continuing to carry out abuses including forced portering, road construction, and military conscription (including of children). There have been no arrests or prosecutions of corrupt officials related to trafficking.

Protection The government provides limited programming to provide women with income-generating skills and to assist returning victims of trafficking, but there is no specific budget for such activities, which are largely “self-financing.” It allows two foreign NGOs and the UN to provide some services and support for repatriation of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. The government provides no assistance to victims trafficked for forced labor.

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