Pattaya Daily News

30 December 2007 :: 16:12:54 pm 30684

Economic Crisis Fueling Child Labor, Trafficking

Migrant treet children? in Thailand feature in no official statistics and NGOs can only hazard a guess at their true number 20,000 is a generally accepted figure.
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The economic crisis and instability in Burma is driving waves of Burmese children into hard labor, begging and the sex trade, claims exiled Burmese rights groups.

To mark the fourth anniversary of the international Day Against Child Trafficking on December 12, Mae Sot-based organization Burma Anti-Child Trafficking and the Burmese Migrant Workers’ Education Committee organized a campaign in the Thai border town of Mae Sot against the trafficking of children and warning against the hardships of child labor.

The two groups called for the protection of children?s rights in an event that was attended by some 2,000 children, parents and teachers.

Nang Muu, coordinator of the Burma ACT told the reporter : ?The amount of Burmese children trafficked increases year after year. It is because of the economic crisis and the social problems that parents believe the word of traffickers.?

Often, parents of children and teenagers in Burma are persuaded by businessmen, relatives and friends to send their children abroad?usually to Thailand, China, India, Malaysia or Indonesia?to seek jobs with better salaries than exist in Burma, according to a member of Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association, a Mae Sot-based migrant rights group.

Hard labor or kindergarten? Burmese children working on an underground plumbing system in Myawaddy. [Photo: goodgolly] Kids jostle for the job of carrying a stranger’s groceries in Mae Sot. [Photo: The Irrawaddy]

A 2005 report released by Bangkok?s Chulalongkorn University highlighted the vulnerability of migrant street kids. Children were found at shopping malls, weekend markets, train and bus stations, slum districts and bar areas, said the report.

Burma ACT has documented about 70 cases of child trafficking in 2007 and helped to send four trafficked children from Mae Sot back to their homes in cooperation with other rights groups, said Nang Muu.

Meanwhile, the results of child trafficking has had a huge impact on the education of many Burmese migrant children, forcing the children into hard labor in factories, sweat shops and even into the sex trade, according to Burmese migrant education groups.

Many victims under the age of 18 have become street beggars and sex workers instead of studying at school, said Paw Ray, the chairperson of the BMWEC, which operates nearly 50 schools for children of Burmese migrant workers in Mae Sot.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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