Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Down and out parents are driven to sell children, but concerns about trafficking arise.

WCRP (Rehmonnya): In April 2009, Ma Mi Aye, who has been struggling economically after a series of family tragedies, had to sell her daughter to another family for 30,000 kyat (28 USD) in, Pa-An Township, Karen State,

According to a source who spoke with Ma Mi Aye, age 21, “My husband was killed by strangers and my mother was in the hospital. My family is very poor and we couldn’t afford to pay her medical bills. So I had no options until I sold my 1 year and 3 month old daughter for what I hoped would be 50,000 kyat.”

Ma Mi Aye (whose name and town have been changed for security purposes) from Kyaikto Township, Mon State lost her husband when strangers killed him during the 2009 water festival for an unknown reason.

“It was very long journey to get to Pa-An Township and I have walked the whole day and night to get here” a source quoted her as saying, “I would be very happy if someone could adopt my daughter in exchange for 50,000 kyat, and take care for her as if she were their own since I do not have any money to feed her.” Ma Mi Aye came to Pa-An because it would be too painful to see the girl every day with another family in her own village.

Upon hearing Ma Mi Aye’s story a family from Pa-An Township felt sorry for her and adopted the girl, however only for the price of 30,000 kyat. Additionally they required her to sign an agreement stating that in exchange for that money she would relinquish all her rights and familial connection to the child.

While being forced to sell her daughter has brought a great deal of sympathy to Ma Mi Aye’s plight, some villagers suspect that if she were to sell her own child, she could conceivably steal another person’s child and try to sell that too, to make additional money.

This instance of selling a child because of financial hardship is not singular. Over the past several years instances of families trying to sell their children so they can survive has been on the rise. Recently its been reported several women from Kyaikto Township have been coming to another near by village to sell their children in this year alone. However no witness could confirm they were in-fact from Kyaikto Township, or that the children being sold were their real children.

Some villagers in the area suspect these sales come from a group of women working together selling children that are not theirs. While there have been no reports of missing or kidnapped children, sales have been on rise and will occur between 3 months to sometimes half a year.

According to the villager from Pa-An Township, Mi Khaing Khaing, said to the WCRP, “My father has been trying to adopted a 3 year old child, but he been rethinking this plan after he became afraid that the children who are being sold might have been kidnapped form their legitimate families.”

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