Burmese women in jade business double as sex workers

Some Burmese women into jade business on the Sino-Burma border jade markets are doubling as sex workers for survival following the collapse of the jade market, said border sources.

In Ruili also known as Shweli in Burmese, the biggest trade town bordering Burma in China's southwest Yunnan province, hundreds of Burmese women have arrived hoping to sell jade. But their hopes have been dashed.

Burmese women mainly from Burma's northern Kachin State arrived in Ruili for selling low-quality jade stones from Hpakant (Phakant) jade mines in Kachin State. Some women work as jade brokers, said Burmese jade merchants in Ruili.

According to a jade trader in Ruili, especially some married women are into sex to earn money for survival in Ruili rather than try their hand at other businesses after staying there for a long period without being able to sell jade.

The women jade traders do not sell sex except when they are short of money.  They can earn 300 Chinese Yuan (US $44) per night, said jade trader sources.

Early this month, two women jade traders in Ruili sought to be second wives of rich Chinese businessmen from Hunan province but only one woman could leave for Hunan, said a jade trader in Ruili.

If Burmese women jade traders in Ruili are accepted as second wives of Chinese businessmen from faraway cities in China, they receive money for hotel rent, food, transportation and other personal expenses from the Chinese businessmen.

Most women jade traders in Ruili arrived just before China's Beijing Olympic Games in August last year but the jade markets collapsed since early last year, said border jade traders.

At that time, Burmese jade merchants were facing hardships living in Ruili. They were unable to pay their hotel rent which cost at least 70 Chinese Yuan (US $10.2) per night while daily food cost at least 10 Yuan (US $1.5) per meal in the town, a Burmese jade businessman in Ruili said.

They could not go back home for two reasons--- they did not have enough money to go back and they were waiting to sell their jade stones at the same prices they bought it for or at lower prices.

At the moment, jade prices have fallen by over 70 percent in Ruili. Chinese jade customers select and buy jade stones at prices less than 1,000 Yuan (US $147), said a jade broker in Ruili.

According to Burmese jade traders in Ruili, there is a tendency among the Burmese women who arrive there for jade business to double as sex workers for Chinese males if the Ruili jade market remains stagnant.

The US has banned import of gems and jade from military-ruled Burma since last year as part of an economic sanction against the country's ruling junta.