Burmese Migrant Women in Thailand Targeted by Rape Gangs
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Burmese Migrant Women in Thailand Targeted by Rape Gangs


By LAWI WENG Monday, October 20, 2008


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Burmese migrant women working in the factories of Mahachai, in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon Province, run a high risk of being sexually abused and raped, according to Thai human rights groups.

Mahachai has the highest concentration of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, most of them employed in the area’s seafood processing plants.

A lawyer with the Mahachai-based Raks Thai Foundation said about 30 Burmese migrant women had been raped in the area in the first eight months of 2008.

Another rights group, the Labor Rights Promotion Network, said it was working on the investigation of six cases of alleged rape.

The network’s director, Sompong Srakawe, said about two women fell victim to gang rape in the Mahachai area every month.

The Raks Thai Foundation lawyer said legal proceedings were now under way in the case of two Burmese women who complained they had been held against their will and raped by members of a human trafficking gang.

Rights groups accuse the Thai authorities of failing to take rape complaints seriously enough.

“Street gangs say ‘the Burmese women are illegal migrants and we can’t be arrested if we rape them’,” said Sompong.

According to the Raks Thai Foundation lawyer, only five percent of rape complaints are followed up by the authorities. “If you are Burmese, your case is delayed and you can’t get fair justice,” he said.

Victims are often dragged from their rooms and taken away in trucks to be gang-raped, he said.

Hong Son, a factory worker from Ye Township, in Mon State, said a 14-year-old acquaintance had been abducted by a gang, beaten up and raped.

A member of the Raks Thai Foundation said shame and the fear of deportation caused some victims to remain silent.

Around one million Burmese migrants are registered to work legally in Thailand, while about the same number are illegally employed, according to the Mahachai-based Labor Protection Department.

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