Our world is truly becoming an international community with borderless societies, but this heavy increase in migration has led to many questions and safety issues involving the poor, war refugees, and the general sanctity of humanity. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) commenced its launch in Bangkok on September 6 outlining the state of women migrants in developing countries. These meetings will conclude at the United Nations in New York on September 15.
Irena Vojackova-Sollorano, a Regional Representative for UNFPA said, “Since the nineties we have had the biggest migration flow the world has ever seen.” This lowering of international borders has been an empowering experience for women but in the search for jobs and a common living some end up in the hands of sex traffickers and con-men.
Mr. G. Giridhar, the UNFPA Represenative in charge of Thailand said, “Thailand is both a major sending and receiving country for migrants.” The main concern is not the fact that migration is heavy, but that women are moving around at much younger ages in search of jobs abroad only to discover they have been tricked into low paying jobs; the majority being sex workers.
Burmese, Laotian, and Cambodian people have all made large migrations into the Thailand the past decade in search of jobs and as a means to support their struggling families at home.
Because migrants commonly live outside the mainstream of society it is hard to track them and their children making the fight to end sex trafficking an almost implausible feat.
Jean D’Cunha, the UNIFEM Regional Programme Director said, “There is a great need for regional collaboration.” Unfortunately governments such as Myanmar aren’t interested in women trafficking as much as drugs and bombs so the safety of migrant women is severely under looked.
Khun Ei Ei, a Burmese migrant worker attended the conference in Bangkok and gave an emotional depiction of the early years of her life.
“I moved to Thailand when I was 15 [and] worked at a shrimp factory for 100 baht (2.70USD) a day,” said Ei Ei. In Myanmar the highest public education you can get is 5th grade, and then if you parents do not have the money you must work.
“I am very fortunate,” said Ei Ei, “My friend worked at a snooker bar and was diagnosed HIV positive…she died several months later.”
Dr. Siripon Kanshana, Inspector General and Ministry of Public Health said, “The problem [among these women] is usually AIDS. Migrants are more susceptible to many diseases.” Unfortuneately the gross lack of health care and condom education tends to make these problems even worse.
“Twenty-five percent of migrant women [coming into Thailand] are pregnant,” said Siripon. Unlike most other countries children born to illegal migrant mothers in Thailand do not get citizenship making them completely undocumented and vulnerable to the horrible cycle of sex trafficking.
Intense dialogue on international migration and development will begin at the United Nations in New York on September 14 and 15.