25-year-old Nan Pyung works for the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand’s anti-trafficking program in Laiza, Kachin State. She is also a former trafficking victim. I had the privilege of meeting with her today in Ruili, China, where she told me her story over a delicious Burmese lunch.
Nan Pyung migrated to China when she was 13 years old. She came here to work and support her family, as they had little income in Burma’s Kachin State. Upon arriving in China, Nanpyung found a job in a seafood restaurant– hard, grueling work that paid 300 Yuan ($50) per month.
One night, the restaurant owner and some Burmese friends invited her out to a local Karaoke bar in Ruili. Nanpyung didn’t want to go, because she suspected the environment might not be safe, but after some discussion she agreed.
Before she could leave the bar, five men grabbed her and threw her in a car. She begged the driver to let her go but he ignored her– he’d been paid off. The men took her to a hotel in Ruili and locked her inside. Nan Pyung tried the doors but they’d been triple locked. One of the en, her capture who had paid the Burmese friends, left the room for a few minutes. Nan Pyung was sure that when he came back, she would be raped—or worse.
In her fleeting moments alone, Nan Pyung looked around the room. She saw an open window. She quickly said a prayer. Then climbed out the window and jumped.
Three stories later, she hit the ground.
Nan Pyung lay in a puddle of blood. Her back was broken. She wanted to run but she couldn’t move. The man who had captured her found her lying in the street, surrounded by a crowd of Chinese people. He picked her up and drove her to a nearby hospital. He warned her not to tell anyone what happened—he said she was to pretend that they were lovers.
But Nan Pyung refused. Once admitted into the hospital, she begged the nurse to listen to her story. The nurse called the police, who came and questioned Nanpyung for several hours while she lay in pain, her broken back throbbing.
The man was soon caught and confessed to his crime. After much deliberation, but no trial, he was sentenced to three months in prison. Nan Pyung never found out whether he actually served his sentence.
Human trafficking is a human rights violation and crime. China stands as one of the worst countries in the world for its unwillingness to comply with international standards to combat and prevent trafficking. Border cities such as Ruili, in particular, leave migrants vulnerable to a host of exploitative labor conditions.
Six years later, Nan Pyung is walking– albeit with a limp– and working for a community based organization dedicated to combating trafficking and improving the status of Kachin women. Despite her horrific ordeal, she considers herself lucky. “I cannot believe I am alive today,” she remarked. “It is a miracle.”
Nan Pyung’s story has been documented in the book, “Nowhere to Go Home.”
To learn more about her and the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) visit: www.kachinwomen.com.