Human trafficking: a modern-day slavery

  • By Maung Khaing Mar (Upper Minhla)

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Myanmar has been stepping up its fight against human trafficking as a national cause. Despite its efforts, Myanmar was downgraded to Tier 3 from Tier 2 Watch List in the U.S. Department of State’s 2016 Trafficking in Person’s Report. Whatever it may be, Myanmar has been making all-round efforts to combat human trafficking across the country.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, because human trafficking is regarded as the third largest crime industry in the world after drug trafficking and illegal arms sales. It is estimated that there are 2.4 million people throughout the world who are lured into human trafficking. An estimated 2.5 million people, including women and children,are victims of modern slavery every year and 54 per cent of global trafficking victims were identified to be in the Southeast Asian region.

Human Trafficking
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
According to Myanmar’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law (2015), Trafficking in Persons is defined as recruitment, transportation, transfer, sale, purchase, lending, hiring, harbouring or receipt of a person after committing any of the following acts for the purpose of exploitation of a person with or without his consent: 1. threat, use of force or other form of coercion; 2. abduction; 3. fraud; 4. deception; 5. abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of a person; 6. giving or receiving of money or benefit to obtain the consent of the person having control over another person. Exploitation includes receipt or agreement for receipt of money or benefit for the prostitution of one person by another, other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced service, slavery, servitude, debt-bondage or the removal and sale of organs from the body.



Although human trafficking and exploitation has been in existence across the globe for ages, it has attracted the attention of the international community after 1990. Since the late 1980s, political affairs and economic issues have dramatically changed and communications has opened up the world, turning it into a global village. The economies of some countries are growing very rapidly, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening in the world. Many people are on the move for greener pastures where they can find better employment opportunities, education, and healthcare for their future. Upon their arrival to other countries, those who do not have high qualifications, education, and financial investment tend to seek help from people who are knowledgeable than them, thereby providing opportunities to exploit them. Later, it turns into human trafficking and exploitation around the world. There are two forms of human trafficking: people who escape the bonds of human trafficking, i.e. after experiencingmany different forms of exploitation, they become survivors of human trafficking and those who have been prevented from becoming trafficking victims in the nick of time. They are found to have used forged travel documents and fake offer of employment letter. Moreover, it is found that victims themselves are not familiar with one another and they do not know where they are heading to.
It is found that a majority of women who illegally migrate to neighbouring countries for jobs fall prey to a trafficking form of forced marriage. As a significant development in 2018, a new form of trafficking case, which is surrogate pregnancy, was exposed and action has been taken against such cases. In domestic trafficking cases, prostitution and labour exploitation are taking place in the main.

Types of human trafficking
The main factors of human trafficking are due to poverty, non-education, lack of knowledge of human trafficking, scarcity of job opportunities, desire for a higher salary, unequal numbers of men and women in the population, domestic human trafficking and suffering from natural disasters and armed conflicts in the country. In Myanmar, human trafficking takes on various forms, including forced marriage, exploitation of labour, forced sexual exploitation, forced to begging, forced laborers in the fishing sector, and so on.

Myanmar and human trafficking
As for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the country has developed awareness of the menace of human trafficking since 1990. A deliberation had been made to combat human trafficking during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, and the government has adopted the policies in 1997.
Myanmar has identified human trafficking as a matter of national concern in 1997, with Preventive Working Committee for Trafficking in Persons established on 17 July 2002. Moreover, the Federation of Myanmar Women’s Affairs stepped up its mission in the fight against human trafficking by means of prevention, legal action and rehabilitation for victims. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law was promulgated on 13 September 2005, with the Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons coming into existence in 2006. An anti-human trafficking police unit was set up in 2013, and the country laid down its first five-year plan (2017-2021) for action to combat human trafficking as a national duty. Cooperation has been made with neighbouring countries, UN, INGOs and NGOs, to carry out the process and making it a success. To combat trafficking cases, activities such as promulgation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, formation of the Central Body for Suppression and Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and formation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division in the Myanmar Police Force have been conducted. Moreover, a five-year plan dedicated to combat trafficking in persons is being implemented. According to Anti-Human Trafficking Force, from January to June 2018, human trafficking cases recorded throughout the whole country occurred as follows: 29 per cent in Yangon Region, 33 per cent in Shan State, 16 per cent in Mandalay Region, 6 per cent in Kachin State, 5 per cent in Bago Region, 4 percent in Nay Pyi Taw, 3 per cent in Rakhine State, 2 per cent in Mon State, 1 per cent each in Sagaing Region and Kayin State, respectively.

Aims and objectives of theWorld Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018
The government has set up aims and objectives of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, and the objectives of this year are: 1. to combat the anti-human trafficking as a national cause, with the cooperation of all citizens; 2. to disseminate knowledge on anti-human trafficking among the public; 3. to take care of the victims of human trafficking with sympathy; and 4. to promote cooperation among the departments, CSOs, UNs, NGOs and INGOs, to combat human trafficking. Therefore, it is of paramount importance for the entire public to participate in the process of eliminating human trafficking or the so-called modern-day slavery.
Translated by
Win Ko Ko Aung

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