In the next hour, dozens of young people living in Myanmar and Cambodia will leave home with the promise of bright jobs in big cities that will open doors to a better life. Unfortunately, this dream is often a nightmare.
Upon arriving in a richer country, they’re forced to work jobs that are exploitative. They work long hours for little to no pay. They are forced to do tasks that are dangerous. And they are left to stay in places that are humiliating. Today, on World Day against Trafficking in Persons, we advocate against human trafficking as a crime that exploits women, children and men.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.
Millions are trapped in jobs they were coerced or deceived into and which they cannot leave – primarily forced labour and sexual exploitation. Women and girls represent the greater share of forced labour victims, 11.4 million, or 55% of all trafficked in persons.
Here are the stories of trafficking survivors who compel us to continue our anti-trafficking work.
Phyu: Sold to become a bride
Phyu was 17 when she left school and decided to leave her home in Myanmar. A broker tricked her to work in China with promises of a good job.
When she arrived, a Chinese man paid $3,200 USD for her.
She was wed, beaten unconscious, tied and gagged before being found by police and returned to Myanmar.
After her return, World Vision helped her to attend sewing training and provided sewing machine to start her business. Now, Phyu is an advocate on trafficking and shares her experiences to educate other young women.
Pannha*: Smuggled into another country, jailed with her baby, forced to beg
(*Pannha’s name has been changed to protect her identity and safety.)
As a widow with a five-month old baby, Pannha trusted a relative when he offered her a job in Malaysia. Poor and hopeful to improve their living conditions, she accepted the offer.
Every day, she and her baby were dropped off early in the morning and brought home around midnight. Pannha and the baby worked over 10 hours a day. On some days, she was forced to beg on the streets.
“I did not deserve to fall in this trap, but unfortunately I did, and I had to endure this,” Panha says with upset face.
Although she worked hard hours, the money never came.
She was eventually arrested, thrown in jail and nearly had her baby taken from her. After revealing that she was cheated into this life, she was sent home to Cambodia.
Through World Vision, Pannha received counselling and was provided with basic living essentials: food, tools for farming and training. Now, she grows cabbage around the house with a few mango, coconut, pomelo and orange trees, and wishes to enjoy her future.
Suon: Labouring for pennies a day on a ship
In Cambodia, Suon owned plots of land but although he worked hard, the income he received wasn’t enough to support his family. He decided to work in Thailand and was told he would lift and move rice sacks.
Instead, he endured heavy lifting on Thai transport ships for 15 hours a day without a weekend. Suon worked hard, with the expectation of earning a lot of money to bring home to his wife and children.
One day, he asked permission from his manager to visit home and his wages. He was refused. Suon kept asking for the next few months but he was not allowed.
“I was afraid that I would not be allowed to come home forever,” adds Suon.
Suon was only allowed to return home after lying to his manager – “I told him [the site manager] a lie that my wife and child died, then he let me go home,” Suon says.
He returned home with only 1,100 baht ($34 USD).
Now, Suon reflects on his beautiful life with his wife and seven children. “I am happy to be at home working on a plot of land. What I enjoy the most is spending time with my children. I can take a rest as much as I want,” Suon says. World Vision provided the family with a water pump motor to increase their harvest and discusses with other men the dangers of trafficking.
You can help by signing up with World Vision child sponsorship programme where people like Phyu, Pannha and Suon has a second chance in life to live a full life. Click here to Sponsor A Child today!