RANGOON — Burma’s national anti-human trafficking police rescued 56 women taken to China against their will in the first 11 months of this year, an official said.
Min Naing, chief of the Special Anti-Human Trafficking Police Unit in Naypyidaw, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that women taken to China were the largest single group among the 244 people the agency rescued in 2013 up to the end of November.
Another 20 cases were women trafficked across the border into Thailand, he said.
“There were 56 cases from China. They were from Shan State and were trafficked and forced to marry with Chinese men,” said Min Naing. The unit rescued over 100 people trafficked to China last year.
He said that in these cases, Chinese men typically bought women from brokers in Burma and took them over the border to marry them. Many of the women were forced to work without pay, and were raped, he said.
“It is rare to see they were treated like a wife after they got married. We found that some people who married them sold them to other men for sex,” Min Naing said, added that in some cases there was evidence the rescued women had been tortured while in China.
Min Naing said the root cause of the problem was the shortage of women in China, where decades of the one-child policy has meant there are millions more men than women in the country.
Poor Burmese women living in border areas are taken in by promises of a good life, and well paid work, on the other side of the border. The official figures only include cases where Burmese authorities have been able to rescue the victim, and may only represent a fraction of the true number of Burmese women trafficked into China.
In November, Burmese and Chinese police collaborated to close down a matchmaking agency that was allegedly luring Burmese women in northern Shan State border towns into marriages with Chinese men. The agency’s Chinese manager was deported from Burma after authorities found that the company was recruiting Burmese brides with promises including earnings of $400 per month in China.
Among the other cases dealt with by the anti-human trafficking unit this year, 33 involved people under 16 years old and another 25 involved people aged 16-18. The majority of all those trafficked and rescued, 164, were women.
There were 75 men and 176 women convicted of crimes in the cases, he said. Under Article 24 of Burma’s Penal Code, a human trafficking conviction carries a sentence of between 10 and 20 years.
Additional reporting by Khaing Pyae Zone.