Trapped in Their Own Rings: Padaung Women and Their Fight for Traditional Freedom
Jessica Theurer

The Burmese, Padaung tribe, are known internationally for their long brass rings that collapse their collarbones, creating the illusion of an elongated neck. The tribe has been persecuted for generations, but since they have relocated to Thailand as refugees, they are trapped in their tourism-driven camps. The women now have a decision to make: take off their neck rings so they can relocate, or stay true to their tradition, and provide for their families through tourism. The Thai village officials have refused medical care, education, rightful wages, and technology to keep the camps as primitive as possible for the tourists. This paper also discusses the Burmese military regime and how they gained power, as well as how the Padaung tribe became Burmese refugees in Thailand. This paper argues that as more individuals view the Padaung refugee camps as simply tourist attractions, more women and their families will continue to suffer. By spreading awareness, the Thai government will be forced to award relocation and essentially release these women from the decision between their freedom and their cultural tradition.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijgws.v2n4a3