Burmese woman trafficked to China escapes

Sept 2, 2009 (DVB), A Burmese woman who fell victim to human trafficking on the China-Burma border has escaped from a guesthouse in China, while her friend who was also kidnapped is reportedly being held for ransom.

The two women, both residents of Burma's northeastern Shan state, were apparently tricked into traveling to the China border on 17 August on a guarantee that well-paid jobs awaited them.

An official from an anti-trafficking organization in Shan state's Muse town said that the women were to be sold as brides.

According to a Burmese national in China who helped 32-year-old Thein Kyi after she had escaped, the two were held in a house in the Chinese town of Ruili awaiting the handover to traffickers.

Chinese citizen Som Yung, who owned the Ruili house and was allegedly in charge of the deal, then took them to a guesthouse.

"Apparently Som Yung had already sold the two women and was going to hand them to people in China by 5pm that day," said the Burmese national. "Thein Kyi realised what was going on then fled the guesthouse."

The whereabouts of the other woman, Eh San, are still unknown. A neighbour in her hometown of Moe Meik said that her husband yesterday received a phone call from her claiming the kidnappers had demanded 400,000 kyat ($US400) for her release.

"She said [the abductors] had bought her for 400,000 kyat and asked the husband to pay them back in a village called Naung Tauk near the border with China," said the neighbour. "She asked him to make it before yesterday evening."

A report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June said that human trafficking in Burma remains "a major problem", particularly for women trafficked into forced labour and sexual exploitation.

China, along with Malaysia, is the main destination for Burmese women trafficked for forced marriage.

A United States report criticized the Burmese government for "not making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking".

Reporting by Naw Noreen

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