Where do Chinese girls live

Myanmar: Women and girls abducted to China as “brides”

(Rangoon) - The governments of Myanmar and China have failed to address the trafficking of Kachin women and girls, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The women and girls are sold to China as "brides".

The 112-page report "'Give Us a Baby and We'll Let You Go': Trafficking of Kachin 'Brides' from Myanmar to China" documents how those directly affected from the Myanmar states of Kachin and Shan are sold as sex slaves to China . Human trafficking survivors reported that people close to them, including family members, had promised jobs in China and sold them to Chinese families for payments of an estimated $ 3,000 to $ 13,000. In China, those affected are then typically locked in a room and raped until they become pregnant.

"The authorities in Myanmar and China are looking the other way as unscrupulous human traffickers are selling Kachin girls and women into captivity and exposing horrific abuse," said Heather Barr, executive co-director of the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "The lack of livelihoods and basic rights makes these women easy prey for human traffickers, who have little to fear from the law enforcement agencies on either side of the border."

The report is primarily based on interviews with 37 victims of human trafficking and relatives of three victims. Myanmar government and police officers, members of local organizations and other people were also interviewed.

A woman from the Kachin ethnic group who was sold by her sister-in-law at the age of 16 reported:

“The family took me to a room. There they tied me up again ... They kept the door locked for a month or two. At mealtime, they brought me meals. I cried ... Every time the Chinese man brought me food, he raped me. "

Survivors said that Chinese families often seemed more interested in having a baby than a "bride". After giving birth to a child, some abducted women and girls managed to escape from their tormentors, mostly at the cost of leaving their child behind and giving up hope of ever seeing them again. Upon return, the survivors in Myanmar suffer from trauma and stigma while trying to build a new life for themselves. Offers of help for victims of human trafficking are rare and the few organizations that offer the desperately needed support are overwhelmed with the needs of the victims.

Many of the human trafficking survivors interviewed by Human Rights Watch were from the group of over 100,000 internally displaced persons who fled the fighting in Kachin and Shan states and are living desperate lives in refugee camps. The Myanmar government has blocked almost all humanitarian aid to the camps, some of which are under the control of the opposition Organization for Kachin's Independence stand. Since the men take part in the fighting, women are often the only breadwinners there. This makes women and girls easy prey for human traffickers who sell them to Chinese families who cannot find brides for their sons due to the gender inequality as a result of the one-child policy.

The proportion of women in the Chinese population has steadily fallen since 1987. In the age group from 15 to 29, the gender gap is growing wider and wider. Researchers speak of an estimated 30 to 40 million "missing women" who should be in the world today but were never born because of the preference for male offspring. The preference for male descendants was a consequence of the one-child policy that was pursued from 1979 to 2015 and the restrictions on reproductive rights of women in China that still apply today.

Some families respond to the shortage of marriageable women by buying abducted women or girls. It is difficult to estimate the total number of women and girls sold to China as brides. The Myanmar government reported 226 cases in 2017. According to experts, the actual number is much higher.

Research by Human Rights Watch found that law enforcement agencies in China and Myanmar, including those of the Organization for Kachin's Independenceusually do nothing to bring back abducted women and girls. Families who turned to the police were repeatedly turned away. They were often told to pay before the police did anything. Women and girls who escaped and went to the Chinese police were sometimes not treated like victims of a crime but were detained for violating immigration law.

“The governments of China and Myanmar and the Organization for Kachin's Independence must do more to stop the trafficking, bring back and support the victims and put the traffickers on trial, ”said Barr. "Donor countries and international organizations should support local initiatives that do the hard work the government shies away from: rescuing displaced women and girls and helping them build new lives."

For an interview with Heather Barr on human trafficking from Myanmar to China, see: