The Htoi Gender and Development Foundation provides protection for victims/survivors of human trafficking with regular peer group meetings, psycho-social support, and legal representation at court in Kachin State and Chin communities
Khin*, a young woman from a village in Kachin State, was enticed from her home and family to move to China on a promise of gainful employment. Khin was a high school dropout looking for work when a relative offered Khin, and her parents, gifts and a promise of $400 per month to work in China. Khin was told she must pay $650 for travel expenses, which her parents raised by mortgaging their home. After she arrived in China, the relative paid a salary advance to her parents. However, Khin called her mother and reported that she had been “sold” as a wife. Khin said to her mother, “Now I am like a bird in the cage. I cannot fly wherever I want to.”
Khin’s parents learned about the Htoi Gender and Development Foundation (HTOI) from a community leader, where they sought assistance from the foundations lawyers and staff to repatriate their daughter. HTOI worked with both the Myanmar and Chinese Anti-Trafficking Police, as well as the My Shayi Women’s Organization in Kachin state. HTOI, armed with advice from My Shayi, contacted law enforcement agencies and was eventually able to secure the safe return of Khin to her family and helped bring charges against the relative who initiated the trafficking scheme. She was arrested, convicted, and sentenced by the Myintkyina District Court to 10 years imprisonment, bringing justice for the trauma inflicted on Khin. Khin is now living with her family and is gainfully employed by a local business.
Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) awarded a grant to HTOI to combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP). HTOI provides protection for victims/survivors of human trafficking with regular peer group meetings, psycho-social support, and legal representation at court. Working in Kachin State and Northern Shan, HTOI is a local community-based organization established by social workers and faith-based organizations to focus on gender equality. In addition to directly supporting trafficking victims, HTOI works to prevent human rights violations with programs focused on women’s empowerment, peace and security, gender advocacy, and support for internally displaced women from camps in Shatapru village.
PRLP is currently implementing 5 TIP grants to increase awareness and prevention, assist survivors, and provide free legal aid and advice through community-based organizations, using a grass-roots approach. Much of the work is focused in border and transit areas where TIP frequently occurs, which provides more potential to affect change.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.