Sr. Lucy Win, SCCG a coordinator for Talitha Kum Myanmar
I am Sr. Lucy Win, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Capitanio Bartolomea and Gerosa Vincenza which is an international group of Sisters in the Catholic Church founded by Bartolomea Capitanio in Lovere, Italy in 1832 for education of young girls and helping the sick. I also serve as a coordinator of the Catholic Religious Conference of Yangon, an organization fostering and promoting the unity of religious life in depth.
What is the reality of human trafficking in Myanmar? What types of exploitation are faced by at-risk groups?
Human trafficking is the result of the desire for greener pastures. Traffickers take undue advantage of numerous different vulnerable groups: from the huge number of displaced people, which is nearly 1.3 million, to young women in camps, vulnerable to trafficking into the sex market in Thailand. Young people are particularly at risk. Youth who have lost their livelihood from their families, who are starving; students who lost their education because of ongoing conflict in their areas and young adults from villages, where aerial bombing is taking place, such as in Sagaing and Pekhon - all these young people are at risk of being exploited.
Many of these groups are trafficked along the Tachileik to Thailand route, the trafficked persons are recruited for labor, sex work and casino work. Other trafficking routes used are through Malaysia, mostly through conflict areas and airports; through the Northern China state borders to India and through the rebel held Karen areas into Mae Sot, Thailand.
In the search for a better life so many become victims to various forms of exploitation. Distressed migration of young people forces them to choose risk-prone livelihood options. Traffickers recruit young people, who do not have proper documents, into modern forms of slavery. Young women are forced into marriages in China and other countries, where the sex ratio of men and women is not balanced. Women are duped into sex work, under the pretext of jobs as maids. There has also been an increase in digital slavery, especially in the casinos of the rebel held areas. The forms of trafficking keep expanding and traffickers remain elusive.
Faced with the challenges of human trafficking in Myanmar, what is the response of the Talitha Kum Myanmar network?
Our response to the challenges we face are broad, attempting to reach as many vulnerable and at risk groups as possible as well as, those who have fallen victim to this evil. The successes achieved from our work lie in partnership with the local civil society, local churches and community leaders, capacity building through professional NGOs as well as collaborations among different congregations and other commissions - such as, Catholic Women Commission, Child Protection Commision and Myanmar Catholic HIV/AIDS - providing service to nuns and priests in vulnerable areas and reaching out to those who are greatly affected by the war. Our preventative approach, attempts to educate vulnerable youth and raise awareness on trafficking, on rights of victims, migrant rights etc. Importantly, we train our next generation of Talitha Kum Youth Ambassadors, on the Archidiocesan, Diocesan and parish levels.
What does it mean to you being part of Talitha Kum?
Being part of Talitha Kum International gives us greater confidence and courage to reach out to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters as we are strongly encouraged by the support base. It provides inspiration from other religious women, who show great innovation and courage. It allows us to increase our knowledge through mutual learning, experience and skill sharing in order to fight against the heinous crimes seen in human trafficking.
March 14, 2023