In a recent survey of three townships, Save the Children discovered that 85 percent of households have taken out a loan from a local moneylender.
While the loan may rescue them from an immediate financial emergency, the interest rates - which range from 5 percent daily to 30 percent monthly - trap the borrower in a perpetual cycle of debt.
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.
"I have worked in Asia most of my life and I have not come across such high levels of indebtedness.