Shan State remains a human trafficking hotspot, police say

Shan State continues to have the country’s highest number of human trafficking cases despite police efforts to combat the scourge, a police official acknowledged last week.

The state is three years into a five-year, anti-human trafficking project, Police Major Hla Oo from the Anti-Human Trafficking Police Force said during a September 1 press briefing in Taunggyi.

He said that 48 human trafficking cases have been recorded in Shan State this year, with most of the victims taken to China from Muse.

Between 2007 to 2011, a total of 291 trafficking cases were recorded in Shan State. The 2012-2017 figure is on a similar trend, with 266 cases recorded until now.

The majority of the cases involve women sold into marriage and prostitution, as well as men and women sold into forced labor.

Shan State Police Force Commander Police Colonel Aung Aung said brokers from China have been entering Myanmar and making contacts with local human traffickers.

Police Major Hla Oo said members of the public need to be made more aware of the threats of human trafficking and try to work with police to prevent the cases.

“The biggest difficulty [we face] in carrying out anti-human trafficking tasks is [a lack of] public cooperation. When we hold public talks to promote public cooperation, the public thinks we are intervening in their businesses and livelihoods,” he said at the briefing.

“When we receive information about a group of people going to work in [a neighboring] country, our men stop them and try to explain to them about human trafficking. [The businesses] send complaints that we violated their human rights. We can’t stop them from going,” he added.

Among 330 townships in Myanmar, human trafficking cases have been reported in 271 townships.

The majority of the reported cases took place in Shan State, followed by Yangon Region, Mandalay Region, Ayeyarwaddy Region, Mon State, Magwe Region, Rakhine State and Kayin State. Women make up 57 percent of the victims and children make up 14.7 percent, according to Police Major Hla Oo.