Myanmar Women From Kachin Trafficked, Raped in China to Obtain Babies for Chinese Men: HRW
Internally displaced women from Myanmar's Kachin state | (Photo credit: UNHCR, M.Savary)

Toronto, March 22: In a disturbing report, Human Rights Watch has recorded numerable cases of human trafficking from Myanmar’s restive province of Kachin to China where Kachin women are sold to Chinese men and raped until they become pregnant. They are then forced to leave their babies behind if they wish to return to Myanmar.

The report says women from Kachin are sold for anything ranging from US $3,000 to $13,000 and are rarely ever cognizant of the fact that they are in fact being trafficked. The money changes hands between brokers and the buyer while the Kachin woman is sold and left at the mercy of the buyer. HRW, in its report, cited 37 women who had escaped from China after being trafficked. These girls narrate stories of bondage, beatings and worst of all – having to give up their baby if they wanted to leave their Chinese husband. Twelve of these girls/ women were under 18, the youngest 14.

The report says that China’s gender imbalance due to the government’s one child policy means there are 30 to 40 million Chinese men who are single. In traditional Chinese families, sons stay with their parents and support them in old age while daughters move out to be with their husbands, creating a cycle where a family wants and ensures that your only child is a son. This has then led to the creation of a market for trafficked brides for Chinese men who are unable to find wives in China. Read: Rohingya Genocide Is Still Going On in Myanmar, Says Top UN Human Rights Investigator

One trafficked girl who managed to escape with her baby in tow, an exception says HRW, narrated her experience in which she was sold off by her own relative. She said she was lured into the ‘job’ by her sister-in-law who drugged her on the way. She woke up to find herself tied and delivered to the Chinese buyer’s house. The family took her to a room, where she was tied up again. Each time her “husband” brought her meals, he raped her. She eventually had a son. Two years later, she escaped with her son.

This situation in Kachin is exacerbated by the security situation where administration in villages is non-existent and the Myanmar army is focused on dealing with insurgents and hence turns a blind eye to these crimes. Kachin state's conflict resumed in June 2011, breaking a 17-year-long ceasefire agreement between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization. The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people so far.

Similarly, on the other side of the border the Chinese police take little action against the traffickers and often treat the women and girls as violators of immigration law. In one case HRW reports that the Chinese police demanded a US$800 bribe from the family the woman had escaped from and then handed her back to them.