As violence in Myanmar continues, thousands flee to neighboring Thailand. The Burmese government continues to carry out airstrikes against civilians they deem terrorists or rebel groups, killing men, women, and children. Left with no choice, refugees travel across the border to nearby Thailand, hoping for peace and a better life.
Unfortunately, they are met with a different danger. Stateless people residing in Thailand’s Hill Tribe Villages are among the most vulnerable to being trafficked. The Asia- Pacific region already experiences the highest levels of trafficking, with 3 in every 1,000 people in forced labor (including the sex industry).  However, without access to government resources and exposure to extreme poverty- Burmese refugees are arguably the most vulnerable to trafficking.
Sex trafficking occurs through methods of coercion. This can happen in several ways. Traffickers kidnap girls during the daytime when they are supposed to be from school. Girls may be tricked into working at a restaurant in the city that is a front for sex work. Families in desperation may push their young daughters to join the sex industry to provide income for their families. With an easy entry point to join, the industry offers fast income. Sadly, most girls in the sex industry will be subject to extreme forms of violence, exploitation, and abuse.  Once in the industry, the barriers to ever receiving an education are astronomical. Once they enter the sex industry- they are most likely in it for life.
For the stateless girls growing up in Thailand’s Hills, the best protection against trafficking is education. Angel Covers provides educational support for vulnerable girls in the Hill Tribe Villages to help these girls stay in school. For girls who fled the violence with their families in search of a better, safer life- we aim to help provide just that. Education gives these girls the hard and soft skills they need, giving them agency over their lives and bodies. It seems simple, but providing bus fare so they can get to school or supplies so they are equipped at school makes a world of difference. The bottom line- it keeps them in school, where they are safe and empowered. Every girl- whether born in the United States or Myanmar, deserves opportunities and a future. Join us in providing this to Burmese girls growing up in Thailand.
Preventing Child Trafficking: A Public Health Approach by Jonathan Todres and Angela Dias