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Debbie Chen
AP English III
12 December 2016
Human Trafficking: Government Intervention in Myanmar
When one thinks of Myanmar, opulent is not the word used to describe the
poverty stricken country. The lack of legal status for specifically women and children
significantly contributes the problem of the population falling victim to human trafficking.
Although the Burmese government has not made much effort in prosecuting the
civilians and officials accountable, there have been actions, such as retraining the
military to recognize victims, made to prevent and protect the victims in recent years.
Myanmar, being a poverty country, faces the long-term problem of human
trafficking due to the lack of intervention from the countrys government. Huettemans

The New York Times article on U.S. Criticizes Myanmar Over Human Trafficking, it
states The State Department said in its report that the countrys military and the
widespread use of forced labor, including the sex trafficking of women and girls,
remained serious problems in Myanmar. The government sustained law enforcement
efforts comparable to those in previous years; it did not make progress in holding
civilian officials accountable for trafficking offenses. The 2005 Anti-Trafficking in
Persons Law prohibits sex and labor trafficking and imposes criminal penalties
comparable with those prescribed for rape; the countrys impotent government has not

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investigated or prosecuted any persons affiliated or charged with human trafficking.

This is their point of view said Thet Naung, a spokesman for the Myanmars
anti-trafficking division about the efforts the country has made against human trafficking.
We do our best without taking a rest on this issue is what Naung said, according to
Huetteman. He attributed the countrys problems largely to poverty, which he said has
driven people to neighboring countries in search of higher wages which left them
especially vulnerable to forced labor. Naung also blamed the gender imbalance in
China, driving the demand for brides from nearby countries such as Myanmar.
The power and influence of the Burmese military limited the ability of civilian
police and courts to address cases of forced labor and the recruitment of child soldiers
by the armed forces; there have been no evidence that any soldiers accused of
trafficking crimes have ever prosecuted anyone in civilian courts, nor has the
government ever prosecuted a civilian for child soldier recruitment. It did not make
efforts to punish labor recruiters, brokers for illegal practices, nor did they attempt to
reduce the demand for commercial sex acts which increase civilians and migrants
vulnerability to exploitation not only in Myanmar, but also abroad, resulting in the
downgrade of Myanmar from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 country. The government did not
make efforts to screen for indicators of trafficking among other vulnerable groups such
as returning migrant workers filing complaints regarding employment abroad, working
children, or individuals in prostitution. A key issue that U.S. administration considered
before Myanmars downgrade was alleged government complicity in human trafficking,
including its failure to prosecute any civilian officials for their involvement in said a

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person familiar with the situation, according to the Reuters article Exclusive: U.S. to
downgrade Myanmar in annual human trafficking report - sources. The Burmese
governments lack of intervention does not just stop at human trafficking, they also have
done nothing in the rising Rohingya Muslim persecution problem. Myanmars demotion
also appears to be intended to send a message of U.S. concern about the continuous
extension of the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority
nation, according to Spetalnick, Szep, and Slodkowski.
Despite the Burmese government doing very little to minimize human trafficking
cases, improvements have been made. The government made progress in identifying
and protecting victims, but overall victim protection remained inadequate and some
officials reportedly continued to victimize men, women, and children in Burma. While
law enforcement officials continued to proactively identify suspected victims along the
way to China for forced marriages likely to result in sex or labor exploitation or to
Thailand for potential sex trafficking, authorities did not follow standardized, nationwide
procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims, and front-line officers
largely lacked adequate training to identify potential victims, according to the article
2016 Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative: Burma by the U.S. Department
of State.
Myanmar military has had significant progress in curbing use of child soldiers; the
problem is that it has not been completely eradicated like the U.S. anti-trafficking office
had urged. A tiresome investigation process required victims to give statements multiple
times to different officials, increasing the possibility of revictimization. While authorities

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encouraged victims to assist in investigations and prosecutions, the lack of adequate

victim protection of compensation programs provoked by a lengthy trial process and
victims mistrust of the legal system caused many victims to decline cooperation.
Individuals with alleged ties to high-level officials reportedly pressured trafficking victims
not to seek legal help against traffickers. Inadequate efforts to screen for indicators of
trafficking in thousands of anti-prostitution interventions may have led to the treatment
of sex trafficking victims as criminals. Kristin Abrams, acting director of the
anti-trafficking coalition said To prevent this from happening in the future, Congress
should intervene and ensure that the State Department bases its rankings of countries
anti-trafficking efforts on credible evidence, not politics according to Huetteman. While
the government has continued to prosecute and raise awareness about trafficking,
Myanmar has not done enough to hold civilian officials responsible, which is quite
imperative as it appears the problem may be shifting to a private sphere rather than
being resolved.
The effect of the Burmese government intervening in the cases of human
trafficking is minimal. Nothing has been done to show the oppressors what the
consequences are for trafficking, allowing the issue to progress to the extent that it is
today. Unless something is done, whether it is by the Burmese government or from an
allying country, this contingency will continue and will worsen as time goes on.

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Works Cited
"2016 Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative: Burma." U.S.
Department of State, 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Huetteman, Emmarie. "U.S. Criticizes Myanmar Over Human Trafficking." The New
York Times. The New York Times, 30 June 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Spetalnick, Matt, Jason Szep, and Antoni Slodkowski. "Exclusive: U.S. to Downgrade
Myanmar in Annual Human Trafficking Report - Sources." Reuters. Reuters, 28
June 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.