The new government hopes to keep the children in school. Source: Wikimedia
Myanmar President Htin Kyaw has ordered a probe into the case of two child maids who say they were kept prisoner and tortured for five years by a family that owned a downtown Yangon tailors.
The 16- and 17-year-olds were freed last week after an undercover reporter, Swe Win of the publication Myanmar Now. called the police and ran stories about their plight. The girls’ families claim the police had refused numerous requests to help.
The police arrested the owner of Ava Tailoring and two of her relatives on Wednesday only after the story started to dominate the national media.
The girls were aged 11 and 12 when they were sent by their parents to Yangon but no wages were apparently received since 2014.
The UN estimates that in excess of 250,000 children are forced to leave school and go to work.
The girls say they were denied contact with their parents and were treated like slaves.
They have now been sent back to their home village to recover. The shop owner’s younger daughter Thiri Latt allegedly tortured her then maid, Sann Kay Khaing, by breaking all 10 of her fingers, cutting various parts of her body and face with knives, burning her with lighters and cutting her neck. The family is also accused of cutting the other maid Thazin’s nose.
Sann Kay Khaing is on the run and was named a fugitive.
“I have a scar from where an iron was stamped on my leg and a scar on my head as well,” said Thazin.
“This was a wound from a knife, because my cooking was not OK,” Thazin told AFP, showing her damaged nose.
Apart from the lack of police action, the national human rights commission faces uncomfortable questions over the case.
The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission negotiated with the tailor for the girls’ release and for about US$4,000 to be paid to compensate for the missing wages. No apology was given and the family apparently said the injuries were inflicted because the girls were “disrespectful“.
No action was to be taken against the Ava Tailoring family.
“We figured at the time that we could solve the case satisfactorily to all parties involved with a compensation settlement,” Zaw Win of the commission told the media.
There are now calls for the body to be disbanded.
Swe Win is due to receive a presidential award for exposing the case.