While education is nominally free in Myanmar, the cost of snacks, notebooks and informal tuition fees are too much for families struggling to repay their spiralling debts.Than Than Htwe's son dropped out of school at 16 and now supports the family by selling fruit at a nearby market."I have worked in Asia most of my life and I have not come across such high levels of indebtedness.
there are only [a] few ways to get that sort of money fast, and sex work is one of the fastest money earning activities you can find," says anthropologist Maxime Boutry.
"[A family's] last recourse might be selling their daughter." Ma Ei Pyi lives in a one-room shack that clings to the banks of a polluted ditch in Hlaing Thayar township, its bamboo foundations almost floating on the thick layer of refuse that suffocates the water below.
Out of school and with high familial debt, she too is vulnerable to child labour, early marriage or perhaps worse.
"With such high interest rates, a poor family can very quickly find themselves with 4 lakh (roughly $296), 5 lakh (roughly $370) or even 6 lakh (roughly $444) of debt …
She was unable to afford the five percent daily interest rate and the debt quickly tripled.