By THE IRRAWADDY
Thirty-nine Burmese migrant women were arrested on Tuesday by Thai immigration authorities in Ranong in southern Thailand under suspicion of working as prostitutes and illegal entry into the country, according to local sources.
A local resident said that at least 40 members of the Thai security forces, including soldiers, raided a house where Burmese women were living and arrested all those inside.
“The women had been renting the house for some time,” he said. “But the neighbors were upset about what they were doing, so they informed the local authorities.”
According to Inn News, a Thai-language Web site, immigration officials questioned the arrested women, 17 of whom allegedly entered Thailand illegally and five of whom had border passes that had expired.
Inn News quoted a 20-year-old Burmese woman as saying: “I come from Rangoon and have been living in Ranong for six years.”
She said that she normally serviced eight to ten customers a night, according to the Thai Web site, and that Burmese migrant sex workers have to pay 180 Baht (US $5) per night to local authorities to avoid arrest.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, a staff member at the immigration office in Ranong said the 39 women were being detained at the local police station.
Last week, Burmese and Thai authorities signed an agreement to counter human trafficking—especially that of women and children—which included a measure to set up more checkpoints along the common border.