Wednesday, October 3, 2007

China: Impoverished Myanmar Girls Turn to Prostitution in China

The Chinese customs house in the China-Myanmar border town of Jiegao, in China's southwestern province of Yunnan

JIEGAO, CHINA — The spaces behind the rusty garage doors are meant for storage but they instead house dozens of young women from Myanmar like Thin Thin Thay, refugees of the bitter poverty afflicting their home country.

In the late afternoon, Thin Thin Thay's big brown eyes peer out from the half open garage door onto the street in Jiegao, a Chinese town bordering Myanmar where prostitution has followed on the back of flourishing trade.

Across this secluded street only a flimsy wire fence separates Jiegao in southern China's Yunnan province from Myanmar, but at night under the hue of garish pink lights it is a world apart.

As a quiet darkness descends across the border, this nameless street in Jiegao turns into a bustling sex market, with groups of young women in high-heels impatiently awaiting for itinerant Chinese and Myanmar traders.

"Of course, I'm not happy here and I don't like what I do," said the thin 23-year-old sitting on a filthy sofa beneath the walls papered with posters of women.

"But there was not much else I could do," she said.

Like most of the girls here Thin Thin Thay is a product of a nation that despite its immense natural wealth is devastated by poverty, appalling school standards and lack of work...


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