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Female sex workers in the country are one of the most affected populations, with high prevalence rates of both HIV and sexually transmitted infections STIs. Methods: A qualitative study was undertaken in Yangon at the end of to investigate the social and demographic features contributing to the transmission of HIV among female sex workers in urban Myanmar.

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Factory closures due to fashion industry order cancellations have pushed many former employees into often dangerous work.

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Silently, they shuffled in a circle around the mirrored platform in a basement dance bar; arms folded around bare stomachs, eyes fixed on the scuffed metal floor. At the back of the stage, a year-old in black heels hunched her shoulders and tried to shrink into the shadows.

It has been more than a year since she was trafficked into the dimly lit nightclub about 50 miles north of Manila. She is among hundreds of girls supplied each year in Angeles City to meet the demands of foreign men paying for sex — many of whom are American.

A bell sounded and a tourist entered the bar. Under the gaze of her manager, the girl stepped forward and forced a smile.

Her knees shook in the spotlight. The Philippines sex industry and potential for continued exploitation, however, remains indirectly aided by legislative loopholes and apparent indifference by the authorities, according to activists. Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines and commercial sex with under the age of 18 is rape. But bar managers can circumnavigate laws. Duterte, in fact, has appeared to invite foreign men to the country with the suggestion that young women are waiting.

Uphill battle with sex tourism

There is a lot of resistance. As the sex industry has become more lucrative, corrupt officials have taken steps to give it a veneer of legality, activists say.

Unregistered, freelance sex workers and trafficking victims abound. The youngest girl interviewed by the Fuller Project was 10 years old.

Myanmar: sex education in schools sparks debate over morality

Next year, a new airport terminal on the outskirts of Angeles is set to triple the of visitors into the region and bring a possible expansion of sex trafficking and abuses, human rights advocates warn. They proposed a six-point plan for American assistance in holding US citizens able for possible crimes related to exploiting Filipina women and girls, including the placement of closed-circuit TV cameras outside the bars and a kiosk where sex workers and trafficking victims could report abuse and ask for help.

The US Embassy in Manila declined to publicly comment, but past statements by US officials have emphasised a strong partnership with Philippine law enforcement on human trafficking and related issues. Back in the darkened bar, an American man beckoned the year-old down from the stage.

She told him her name is Rose and that she has just turned two lies, taken from the fake papers used to secure her job in the bar. The Washington Post does not identify minors or victims of sex crimes.

Many were afraid that under current anti-prostitution laws, reporting foreign predators to the local police could land themselves in jail. All are underage, she said. Tweets by TheMyanmarTimes. Follow TheMyanmarTimes.

‘i have to do this’: myanmar garment workers forced into sex work by covid

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Corinne Redfern 20 Nov As the evening ends, the pressure to find a client increases. Photo - Washington Post. The girls onstage were ed, not named. More In Women.

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