Report Highlights Slavery Issue in Asia Pacific Region

Myanmar is ranked fifth highest for slavery in the Asia Pacific region, according to Walk Free Foundation’s 31 May report. 515,100 of Myanmar’s 53 million citizens are said to be under some form of slavery.
The report did not estimate those who have not registered as formal citizens, or are unable to register as citizens.
Last year a major Associated Press investigation uncovered slavery of Myanmar citizens on Thai fishing vessels that operated in Indonesian waters. It also uncovered Thai factories where Myanmar citizens processed seafood that was sold in Asia, Europe and the US.
“The abuse of workers on Thai fishing vessels operating in South East Asian waters has become increasingly well documented,” read the 2016 Walk Free Foundation report, going on to say:
“Researchers and investigative journalists have documented the abuse of migrant workers on fishing vessels, often young men and boys, who have endured brutal treatment including physical abuse, excessive and inhumane working hours, sleep and food deprivation, and forced use of methamphetamines.”
In the region 82.9 per cent of slaves assisted by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) were men and 17.1 per cent female. Fishing, small street commerce and prostitution are the top three sectors of exploitation.
IOM assisted 1,644 victims in the Asia-Pacific region accounting for two-thirds of the world’s slave population said the report.
Women are trafficked from Myanmar to China in hope of better work only to find themselves sold into marriage. This is due to Chinese government’s failed, ‘one child policy’; the after effect has seen a drop of women in China’s rural areas.
It is also documented that women working domestically and internationally as domestic workers are susceptible to abuse with allegations going unchecked.
In December 2015 a Myanmar Times report found that 2000 cases of domestic worker abuse had been reported to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, accounting for 1 per-cent of the domestic workforce in the country.
NGO- Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (HOME) claimed it had dealt with 13.5 cases per-month from Myanmar domestic workers.
HOME estimates that 40,000 Myanmar domestic workers operate in Singapore.
The report also highlighted the smuggling operations of Rohingya communities and Bangladeshi citizens smuggled from Myanmar waters into Thailand and Malaysia in search of better lives. Most of those smuggled were abused and tortured, and their families blackmailed. As death camps in Thailand and Malaysia were uncovered.
An investigation into the case found Thai military, police and businessmen along with 52 local politicians involved in the smuggling operation – the report notes.
Last years flooding and Cyclone Komen, along with this year’s El Niño are also to blame for creating insecure working environments in rural areas:
“Throughout 2015–16, cyclones in Myanmar, flooding in India, and drought in Vietnam have increased insecurity for thousands of people,” reads the report.—GNLM

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