Sex Industry in Burma

   The commercialization of sex and the victimization of "sex industry workers" have become major problems in many Southeast Asian countries, including Burma. During the Burma Socialist Programme Party period (1962-1988), the country's isolation from its neighbors inhibited the growth of a sex industry, but this changed after the State Law and Order Restoration Council ended socialist policies of self-sufficiency in 1988 and promoted international economic ties. A report in late 1993 by Human Rights Watch, an international nongovernmental organization (NGO), disclosed that, by that time, an estimated 20,000 Burmese women, mostly members of ethnic minorities, were working in Thai brothels, and that the number was increasing by 10,000 annually. Most of the women suffered harsh working conditions and abuse, and many were exposed to AIDS. By the beginning of the 21st century, prostitution inside Burma was also recognized as a growing problem; because of deteriorating economic conditions, women entered the sex industry not only in Rangoon (Yangon) and other large cities, but also in rural areas. Along with the use of heroin, the domestic sex industry was a major cause of the country's AIDS epidemic, one of Asia's worst. Critics of American sanctions against the State Peace and Development Council argued that the July 2003 embargo on exports to the United States closed down textile factories and forced many unemployed women workers to turn to prostitution.
   See also Human Rights in Burma.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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