Members and clients of TCDN share their experience in combatting TIP with PRLP personnel.
Trafficking in persons (TIP) is a reality that many vulnerable people in Myanmar face, especially along the border with Thailand. Many people, seeking legitimate jobs, cross the border only to find themselves caught up in a criminal enterprise. Thwee Community Development Network (TCDN), through a grant from Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), is combatting TIP through awareness raising activities, protection measures, and victim support services in Myawaddy Township.
One of their clients, Aye Aye Than*, spent nine years working illegally in a factory in Thailand for a promised salary of $225 per month, which was seldom paid in full. She often worked from 1 a.m. to 8 p.m. and was beaten for being sleepy at work. Aye Aye Than values the information and assistance provided by TCDN, which focuses on the same situations she experienced. After TCDN training, she now shares information about safe migration, problems faced by illegal workers, and procedures for traveling legally to young people who are seeking to migrate. Aye Aye Than said, “If I had received this kind of training before, I would have avoided the troubles I faced in Thailand. I don’t want other people to suffer like me, so I share what I learned from the training to young people in my village.”
Another client, Moe Kaung*, was exploited by being sold from one broker to another. After being transported to various locations at night and hid in the daytime, he was sold to work on a fishing boat, which was continuously guarded. Moe Kaung, was held as a prisoner, never being allowed to leave the boat even when in port. He is now an active volunteer in his community, sharing information about TIP and human rights. Moe Kaung said, “Today in my village, people are more informed and more prepared about working in Thailand. They know how to protect themselves from being exploited.”
TCDN is collaborating with various government officials and community organizations to protect victims and provide services such as counseling and safe houses. They conduct advocacy meetings and workshops with township level government officials and distribute awareness raising materials. Also, they conducted a commemoration of the signing of the Myanmar Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, bringing together the community and government to discuss how to best assist victims and protect others from falling prey to this abuse. With support from PRLP, TCDN continues to provide a more inclusive and responsive approach to addressing human rights abuses.
* Represents fake names to protect the individuals who have told their stories.