Burmese Woman Sold Herself To Save Her Mother

Burmese "Women Only" railway carriage sign, circa 1895. Photo: Library of Congress

Lwin Lwin grew up in Insein township in Burma’s longtime capital, Rangoon. She was forced to work in a clothing factory after just a few years of primary education to help support her family. She was living in a village close to the China-Burma border when she was interviewed by May Pyone Aung of RFA’s Burmese service in January 2005:

"My mother needed treatment right away. She had already had one of her lungs removed. The remaining one wasn't too good either. She was in a critical state, and at that time we needed [a certain sum of money] right away. I knew that if I sold myself, I would be able to lay my hands on it straight away. I’d heard about these things here. I’d also seen it happening, so I sold myself. There were brokers. I sold myself and sent the money home...A Chinese man came to buy me [for 11,000 yuan (U.S.$1,375)]...He looked at me. He liked me. He gave the money. Since I already had the money in my hand, I went with him willingly in a car."

"After arriving here, we had sex for about a month. Later, I didn’t want to be with him any more. I was pregnant. I told him: 'Go to work.' He was nice. He went to work and I stayed behind at home in the village. I was pregnant and I didn’t want to be there with them. I tried to run away while pregnant. I couldn’t escape. I was caught. I couldn’t run away at all. I ran away three or four times but they kept catching me and in the end since I didn’t succeed, I decided not to run away any more."

After arriving here, we had sex for about a month. Later, I didn’t want to be with him any more. I was pregnant.

Mother dies in spite of daughter's efforts

"I decided to run away only after giving birth to the baby…I couldn’t run with my pregnancy...It was about 15 days after giving birth to the baby. The Chinese man went to work in Guangdong. He came to get me. I told him I had already given birth and the baby had died and that I didn’t want to live in his village...So he brought me to the city. Only 10 days after he had brought me to the city, I ran away."

"Although I had left Burma [to help my mother], it was in vain. The money was transferred in the morning and my mother died that same evening. I found out only when I returned, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I found out only after 10 months. I had thought that after I sent the money, she had had medical treatment and recovered."

"I haven’t been back to Rangoon since. I won’t go back now. The food is poor and the living conditions are poor in Burma. Living conditions are better here than in Burma."

Original reporting by RFA's Burmese service. Edited for the Web by Luisetta Mudie and Sarah Jackson-Han. Please continue to send contributions intended for RFA's Women in Their Own Words project to women@rfa.org .


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