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Rangoon madam sentenced to 15 years for procuring sex workers

Eastern Rangoon district court; (insert) convicted madam Wai Wai Oo.

A woman who solicited sex on behalf of young women, including at least one underage girl, ­was sentenced to 15 years by a Rangoon district court on Thursday.

Wai Wai Oo, 52, was charged by South Okkalapa police in January 2016 under Burma’s human trafficking law for procuring young women for sex with foreigners – mostly men from China, Japan and South Korea – at a nightclub in Rangoon.

According to the police, Wai Wai Oo housed several young women, including a 13-year-old, at her home in South Okkalapa. She then regularly sent them to the Emperor Nightclub in downtown Rangoon’s popular Theingyi Zay district to offer sex to foreigners for 80,000 kyats (US$60) per session.

The 52-year-old madam was arrested last year at her home after a foreigner, who was unnamed, tipped off the local office of Save the Children about her dealings.

Under Burmese law, all forms of prostitution including sex work, enticing someone into sex work and operating a brothel are illegal.

In 2013, the UN estimated that some 40,000 to 80,000 women in Burma were engaged in sex work. Many thousands of others work in the trade abroad, with Thailand seen as a particularly lucrative location. However, reports of human trafficking and sex slavery are common.

A 2015 UNAIDS report said that some 220,000 to 260,000 people in Burma are living with HIV/AIDS.

An earlier UNAIDS report estimated that in 2005 as many as 32 percent of all female sex workers in Burma were HIV positive.