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Inadequate training, funding and a lack of political will continues to limit Burma’s frontline fight against human traffickers.
On Burma’s northern border with China, an inability for authorities to identify potential victims contributes to hundreds of women being trafficked over the borders every year as forced brides and prostitutes.
At an event in the Kachin capital of Myitkyina on Tuesday, Burma’s anti-human trafficking police unit said they have had just five human trafficking cases in Kachin this year.
“In 2013, there were six cases reported in Kachin state,” Maj Aye Myint of the police Anti-Human Trafficking Division told the workshop.
“Including trafficking of women to sell in China as brides – five cases – and force prostitution in Hapakant – one case. However in 2014, there have been already five cases reported as of August.”
“All of the cases involved selling women to China as brides against their will.”
The United States government’s 2014 trafficking in persons report cites inadequate prevention methods as a factor in Burma’s continued presence on the “tier-2 watch list.”
Tuesday’s workshop was facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration, which hopes to begin coordinating with Burma’s police and social welfare department.
Maj Myint Myint Aye suggested that forced marriages were currently the most pressing issue.
“Most cases involved trafficking young women to sell them as brides across the border. There is no case in Kachin state linking to Thailand but only cases with links to China.”
She added that there were also instances of forced prostitution in Kachin State itself, with the mines around Hpakant being a focus for police investigations.
With over 100,000 displaced by a now three-year war between the Burma army and rebel groups, women in northern Burma remain deeply vulnerable.