‘Thousands Of Myanmar Women Forced Into Marriage In China’

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BANGKOK — Thousands of vulner­able women and girls from north­ern Myanmar are being trafficked to China and forced to marry, a study said on Friday, offering a rare look at an issue that grips the conflict-hit borderlands.

China has around 33 million fewer women than men due to the decades-long one-child policy.

To plug the gap, tens of thousands of poor women from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are sold as brides each year, some going willingly, while others are tricked or trafficked.

In the first research of its kind, a report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated 7,500 women from war-torn Kachin and northern Shan states have fallen victim to forced mar­riage in China.

Based on interviews with scores of people who escaped and returned to Myanmar, and oth­ers still inside China, the study found that the majority of those trafficked were also forced to carry a child for their husband.

Vast majority of abducted girls forced into marriage

Women leave Myanmar be­cause of “conflict, displacement and poverty” said report author W Courtland Robinson, while “the male-female sex imbalance in China, especially in rural areas” means demand for a wife is high.

One woman told research­ers that she was trafficked into China three times, and each time “pushed into giving birth”, said Moon Nay Li of Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, who led the field research in Kachin and Shan states.

“Because of political insta­bility, conflict and land confis­cation … security for women is a big challenge,” she said.

Marriages are often ar­ranged and brokered by the women’s own families and vil­lage elders, with brides-to-be un­able to refuse as they are at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

The youngest women com­mand higher prices of up to US$10,000 – US$15,000.

Forced marriages among reasons for suicides in Chitral

Their matches in China are typically to older, sick, or disabled men in rural areas – people considered undesirable to the Han Chinese – while the women’s lack of documentation plunges them into a legal limbo.

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