The prevalence of reports about young women going missing has increased in both news media and social media channels, especially after the military takeover.
Some of the reasons for these young women’s disappearance include venturing into border regions to seek employment or eloping with their partners. Unfortunately, there are also cases where young people have gone missing and been tragically killed.
The majority of the young ladies belonged to a generation that missed out on opportunities due to the Covid19 pandemic and the military takeover.
“We shared the information about the missing persons with different news outlets and on social media,” stated Sai Kyaw. Nonetheless, as Sai Kyaw, Nang Saw’s elder brother revealed, “we later found out that she had eloped with her boyfriend.”
Nang Saw, who is 18 years old, disappeared in December 2022 after informing her family that she was heading to the market.
The family was deeply worried about Nang Saw’s disappearance, so they made a missing person’s report via all accessible channels. However, on the fourth day after she went missing, Nang Saw returned to her family accompanied by her partner.
“As the older members of the family, it was our responsibility to arrange their marriage,” the brother said. “However, we have concerns about their future as they are both still very young. Currently, the couple is helping us with farm work,” stated the brother.
Since the coup, cases like Nang Saw’s where young people elope, have become a daily occurrence in the news. Some even elope as young as 16, and when their parents disapprove, they resort to seeking employment opportunities in border towns like Laukkai, near the China border.
Due to the negative impact of both the Covid19 pandemic and the ongoing coup in Myanmar, the country’s economy has suffered significantly. As a result, many young people feel lost and have resorted to short-term solutions and seeking out enjoyment to ease their mental stress.
Many young people are feeling aimless and uncertain about their future, staying at home. They have missed out on several years of education and are unable to find employment or opportunities for vocational training.
Sai Pha, an 18-year-old Taunggyi youth, voiced his frustration about the situation, saying, “There are no jobs, and I am unable to attend school. When we stay at home, our parents scold us. Going to work in Thailand is likewise not a good option. So sometimes I just want to run away. I’m alright as long as I’m not around home.”
According to Sai Pha, some young people have turned to destructive, short-term stress-relieving methods, such as drug use, while others have eloped with their partners.
He added, “I have seen some of my friends elope with their partners because they are unhappy staying at home all the time. In some cases, family members were unaware that their children had decided to elope, leading to concerns until they discovered what had happened. Given the current difficult situation, it is understandable that families are worried about the safety of their loved ones,” Sai Pha stated.
“Getting married should be based on mutual understanding and should involve supporting each other’s life goals. So, if someone marries while they are young and immature, they will confront many more challenges,” says Daw Su Htwe, a 50-year-old lady.
According to Daw Su Htwe, occasional disagreements and dissatisfaction between parents and children are a natural part of family dynamics, but communication is the key to resolving such uneasy relationships. Thus, Daw Su Htwe, advised young people not to react with anger by eloping with their lovers at a young age.
“Getting married at a young age poses numerous challenges in all aspects of life, including livelihood, health, and social well-being,” stated Daw Su Htwe. “Youth are too young to provide for themselves, and it becomes even more difficult if they lack maturity and education,” she emphasized.
She further emphasized that marriage should only be considered if one is self-sufficient and mature.
“Please marry when you are old enough to think for yourself,” Daw Su Htwe advised. She suggested that it is best to marry only when one has a career or a profession that can support themselves. “The price of goods is currently growing, and the economy is not doing well,” she added.
“It seems like everyone is getting married these days, even teenagers as young as 16 or 17. While they are allowed to marry, it would be better if they could find a suitable partner. If they end up with someone abusive, their family and parents will feel resentful. If they are unhappy in their marriage, they should return to their parents,” she advised.
One of the recent occurrences involves an 18-year-old woman named Ma Yoon Yoon Htet from Shwe Nyaung, Kung Hliang Ward, Hliang Bone Tha (1), who has been missing since January, as confirmed by her mother.
“After telling us she was going out to eat with her friends, she left the house,” Yoon Yoon’s mother recounted. “When her friends informed us that she hadn’t arrived, we all went looking for her. She was not found, and there has been no news of her since that day.”
Yoon Yoon’s mother expressed her anxiety over her daughter’s disappearance, which has been ongoing for three months. She worries that, in the current situation of the country, Yoon Yoon may have been trafficked or be in danger.
“We have not been able to contact her as her phone has been switched off since the day she went missing. We tried messaging her on Messenger, but it was unsuccessful. We are extremely worried and do not know if she has been trafficked or murdered. I am not even certain if my child is still alive,” the mother expressed her concern. She added, “I would be satisfied to just hear my child say ‘I am OK’.”
In light of this, many parents suggested that if their children plan to leave the house, they should inform their family members of their whereabouts and the people they are going with.
Nang Saw’s mother stressed the importance of communication with family members, saying, “Regardless of how angry they are at their family members or parents, they must inform the parents and family members.” She added, “Or else, we would be worried about them since they left the doors, and they would not understand this feeling.”