Po­lice file charges amid outcry in child maids case

Af­ter two teen girls suf­fered years of abuse at the hands of a Yan­gon tai­lor, po­lice fi­nally in­ter­vened when news of a com­pen­sa­tion scheme ig­nited back­lash on so­cial me­dia.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page -

SWIFT back­lash against a com­pen­sa­tion scheme bro­kered by the Myan­mar Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion in the case of three girls tor­tured for years as house­maids in Yan­gon’s Kyauk­tada town­ship has prompted po­lice to pur­sue le­gal ac­tion against the ac­cused.

Po­lice Cap­tain Myo Thein from the Yan­gon Re­gion anti-hu­man trafficking unit told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that his unit had been alerted to the case via so­cial me­dia, af­ter lo­cal news out­let Myan­mar Now first re­ported on it. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been opened un­der anti-hu­man trafficking leg­is­la­tion, he added.

Myan­mar Now, whose chief cor­re­spon­dent U Swe Win said he had filed a re­port on the abuse with Kyauk­tada town­ship po­lice months ago but saw no ac­tion taken, ini­tially re­ported that there were two vic­tims of the abuse, Ma San Kay Khaing, 17, and Ma Thazin, 16. The girls orig­i­nally hailed from Bawlonek­win vil­lage in Kawhmu town­ship and had en­dured years of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence and psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse be­fore even­tu­ally flee­ing their bondage at the Ava tai­lor­ing shop on 40th Street and re­turn­ing to their par­ents.

But the Yan­gon Po­lice Force’s Face­book page yes­ter­day said three girls had been vic­tims, in­clud­ing 18-yearold Tin Tin Khaing, also from Bawlonek­win. Its Face­book page named Daw Tin Thuzar and Ma Su Mon Latt, a mother and daugh­ter, as de­fen­dants in the case, say­ing they would face charges on two counts of the An­tiHu­man Trafficking Law.

Ac­cord­ing to the Yan­gon Re­gion anti-hu­man trafficking unit, the three girls have al­ready been ques­tioned re­gard­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences. Their phys­i­cal in­juries ranged from bro­ken knuck­les to flesh wounds in­flicted with knives and scis­sors. Po­lice are await­ing the results of a full med­i­cal re­port to com­plete their case file.

“The own­ers will be jailed at least 10 or 20 years un­der the Anti-Hu­man Trafficking Law,” said Pol Capt Myo Thein.

The mother and daugh­ter’s where­abouts were not im­me­di­ately clear, but Daw Tin Thuzar’s son was called into the Kyauk­tada Town­ship Po­lice Sta­tion yes­ter­day evening for ques­tion­ing.

The al­leged abusers had com­pen­sated the fam­i­lies of the girls a com­bined K5 mil­lion (US$4065) on Septem­ber 15, at the ar­range­ment of the MNHRC.

But hu­man rights groups, lawyers and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions quickly con­demned the com­mis­sion’s han­dling of the case once word got out this week.

U Myint Aye, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hu­man Rights De­fend­ers and Pro­mot­ers, said yes­ter­day that po­lice must take ac­tion against the ac­cused de­spite the MNHRC’s at­tempt to set­tle the case mon­e­tar­ily.

‘The own­ers will be jailed at least 10 or 20 years un­der the Anti-Hu­man Trafficking Law.’ Po­lice Cap­tain Myo Thein Yan­gon anti-hu­man trafficking unit

“No one should be sub­jected to tor­ture by any­one. Tor­ture is some­thing that we have to be against. Po­lice can’t tor­ture, the house­hold’s fam­ily can’t tor­ture their home maids and a boss can’t tor­ture his/her work­ers,” he said.

Lawyer U Robert Sann Aung crit­i­cised po­lice for not tak­ing proper ac­tion af­ter the case was ini­tially brought to their at­ten­tion.

“Let’s say, if some­one dies in a place dis­tant from his/her home­town: Will the po­lice not take ac­tion be­cause they worry that the fam­ily of the vic­tim will have dif­fi­cul­ties in trav­el­ling to come to that place?” he said, adding, “We need to fight for jus­tice in our coun­try.”

Aaron Green­berg, chief of child pro­tec­tion for UNICEF Myan­mar, said that no child should be sub­jected to the con­se­quences of phys­i­cal, sex­ual and psy­cho­log­i­cal vi­o­lence.

“The cur­rent cases that have at­tracted public at­ten­tion high­light the ur­gent need to pre­vent vi­o­lence against children, en­sure safe re­port­ing mech­a­nisms are in place, and strengthen response and ac­count­abil­ity mea­sures,” he said.

The 7Days daily news­pa­per quoted MNHRC mem­ber U Zaw Win as say­ing the com­mis­sion had done its best to han­dle the sit­u­a­tion by prac­tic­ing metta, or lov­ing kind­ness.

Since its for­ma­tion in 2011, the MNHRC has faced sus­tained criticism for fail­ing to more vig­or­ously pro­tect and pro­mote hu­man rights in the coun­try. De­spite its rep­u­ta­tion, MNHRC chair U Win Mra was named last month to the nine-mem­ber Rakhine State Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion, which has been tasked with rec­om­mend­ing so­lu­tions to ease in­ter­re­li­gious ten­sions, poverty and mass dis­place­ment of state­less Ro­hingya Mus­lims in the trou­bled western state.

The MNHRC will hold a press con­fer­ence to­day in Yan­gon to ad­dress the com­pen­sa­tion scheme it pro­moted as a means of re­solv­ing the abuse case.

Photo: AFP

Left: A tr­ishaw drives past the Ava tai­lor­ing shop on 40th Street in Yan­gon’s Kyauk­tada town­ship yes­ter­day. Right: Do­mes­tic abuse vic­tim Ma San Kay Khaing, 17, shows her scarred arms and twisted fin­gers while re­cov­er­ing in her fam­ily’s vil­lage of Bawlonek­win, Kawhmu town­ship, yes­ter­day.

SHOON NAING

YE MON

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