Thousands of Myanmar women forced into marriages in China

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Thousands of Myanmar women forced into marriages in China

Deutsche Welle

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Thousands of vulnerable women and girls from northern Myanmar are being trafficked to China and forced to marry and have children, according to a report released Friday.

An estimated 7,500 women from the war-torn Kachin and northern Shan states were sold to men across the border between 2013 and 2017, the study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported.

The youngest women were sold for $15,000 (around €13,000).

Interviews with more than 400 victims in Myanmar and China revealed most of the victims were forced to bear children before sometimes being sold on to a second husband.

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

Problems on both sides

The conflict between ethnic insurgents and government forces, as well as persistent human rights abuses in northern Myanmar, have forced thousands of undocumented women and girls into the arms of traffickers.

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

Marriages are often brokered by the women’s own families or village elders, with the women unable to refuse.

Daughters often “can’t say no to their parents,” said Moon Nay Li, and are forced to go ahead with the marriage once “traffickers and agents have given money to their parents.”

Meanwhile, China’s previous one-child policy has resulted in men outnumbering women by around 34 million, fueling demand for trafficked women from neighboring countries.

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