Underage girls forced into sex work in Myanmar

A girl looks from a temporary shelter at a refugee camp in Myanmar. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

A devastating news report by Reuters details how many teenage girls in Myanmar are being driven into sex work, often because their parents or guardians sell their virginity due to superstitious beliefs held by many that sleeping with a virgin has health benefits such as curing the HIV virus. Many of these are girls who leave the rural areas where they grow up because of family problems and a lack of employment opportunities. An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 Myanmar women between 15 to 49 years old are engaged in paid sex work, according to the United Nations and government estimates. Many of these sex workers are being criminalized under a 1949 law, the Suppression of Prostitution Act, which its opponents say limits their access to healthcare and leaves them vulnerable to harassment. The lack of sex education for young people in Myanmar, moreover, leaves the underage sex workers’ health exposed, while sexually transmitted diseases are rampant among sex workers. Just last week, Amnesty International voted to support a sweeping new policy that would decriminalize sex work.

Read the full story at Yahoo.

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