Teenager ‘tortured, forced into sex trade’

A 17-year-old girl has filed a complaint with the International Labour Organisation in Rangoon in which she claims she was forced to become a sex worker by her aunt and uncle, who duped her parents into allowing them to care for the teenager.

The girl, from the Irrawaddy division town of Kyaunggon, who has not been named, told DVB that the case was lodged with the ILO on Monday after she received assistance from the National League for Democracy party.

“Basically she [aunt] was selling me for prostitution,” the girl said. “She took money from men and forced me go with them and I didn’t get a penny of it. I wasn’t even given time to rest – I was taken out [for prostitution work] every night.”

She claims she was made to sleep with six to 10 clients each day on average. On two separate occasions she tried to escape.

“I tried to run twice and they caught me and beat me up and threatened to stab me to death. They choked my neck and kicked me. In the end I ran and they have been harassing me since. I want action taken on them.”

Thet Wai, ILO liaison officer at the NLD, said the girl was forced to endure this treatment for five months before escaping on 24 February. Included in the complaint are allegations that policemen from the local Kyaunggon stationed also paid the aunt for the girl’s services.

The ILO’s mandate in Burma covers forced labour, although the majority of complaints it receives concern government recruitment of civilians to work on infrastructure projects or for portering in the army.

The government last year gave the nod to form a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) tasked with dealing with complaints from civilians, although with a make-up that includes former government officials, its impartiality has been questioned.

Asked why the girl did not approach the NHRC prior to the ILO, Thet Wai said that the body is “not really reliable”, and that it was formed to give the government a “political advantage” in its dealings with western nations. “They don’t have the authority or the will to help.”

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