Burmese sex workers dare not carry condom, fear of arrest


In the Order No. 1048( 1/2000) of the Burmese central body for preventing and eradicating AIDS disease, signed and issued by the then Police Brigadier Zaw Win( current Director General for Correctional Department), it is stated that condoms must not be used as material witness to arrest sex workers. However, because of the objection from the health department, Ministry of Interior’s effort to publicize this order failed, and had to instruct each tier of police stations collectively instead.

Three police officers found not following the order were transferred to the countryside. It is said that sex workers with condoms are still arrested up to now, even though the order was issued two more times in 2001 and 2003. But the condom is never mentioned in the charge when the case gets to court. For this reason sex workers dare not carry condoms, said a physician from the health department.

The Burmese Prostitution Suppression Act was promulgated after gaining its independence in 1948. There is no provision to arrest sex workers who use condoms under that law.

An ex-sex worker recounted that she asked the police to display condom in court when she was arrested. The police are scared of this type of person. She also encouraged other sex workers that the physician who frequently cures her wants to help solve this kind of case, if the police try to arrest them by using condoms as evidence.

It is necessary to publicize the order not to arrest sex workers by using condoms as evidence, and the spread of AIDS can be stopped by using condoms widely within sex workers, said a physician doing researching on the disease.

According to a senior staff from anti-HIV/AIDS NGO, it is really difficult to wipe out sex trade as long as human beings and sexual desire exist. If the government regard the disease as shame to country and try to keep quiet about it, such disease will always rear its head.