Burma gets to grips with human trafficking

From Global development | The Guardian Mon Dec 24 2012, 02:00:08

NGO Walk Free is challenging firms including Apple and HSBC to tackle trafficking within Burma's emerging private sector

The tiny drinks stall Chit Htet had been running for the past few years in Rangoon was doing so poorly that when the 35-year-old's sister-in-law promised her a job in Burma's southern province, Chit Htet didn't think twice.

But she had been duped. After taking food and drink offered to her by the sister-in-law, Chit Htet fell asleep - and woke up to discover she had been smuggled into Thailand, where, her sister-in-law said, she would now be working to "pay off her job-placement debts" in a pineapple factory. "I was given 300 baht [£6] every 15 days as salary but had to pay for my own water, electricity and rent, which meant that I could only afford to eat one egg a day - half at breakfast and half at dinner," says Chit Htet.

Working in the factory with thousands of others - at least 1,000 of whom she estimated to be Burmese nationals like herself, and many of whom she says had been trafficked by her own sister-in-law - Chit Htet plotted her escape. Guards patrolled the compound and workers were only allowed out in escorted minivans to the local market. But one day she found a Thai colleague's mobile lying around and made the call to police that freed her.

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