Thousands of Myanmar women forced to marry in China: study
More than 7,400 women from Myanmar have been forced to marry Chinese men between 2013 and 2017, the authors of a new study said yesterday.
Most of those women were also forced to bear children, according to the study, written by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT).
It includes surveys of more than 400 women in more than 40 locations in Myanmar and China.
China’s previous one-child policy has resulted in a population disparity in which men outnumber women by 34mn, fuelling demand for trafficked women from neighbouring countries.
Conflict, land confiscation, and other human rights abuses by the Myanmar government in border areas, primarily in Shan and Kachin states, have forced thousands of undocumented women into the arms of traffickers and ultimately into forced marriages that they cannot escape, the researchers said.
“Victims of forced marriage suffer a range of rights violations and exposure to physical and psychological risks,” said Courtland Robinson, an associate professor at the Bloomberg School and the study’s lead author.
“This research draws attention to the scope of the problem and to the urgent need for
Conflict, land confiscation, and other human rights abuses by the Myanmar government in border areas, primarily in Shan and Kachin states, have forced thousands of undocumented women into the arms of traffickers
support services for victims.”
The study calls on Myanmar to end its internal conflicts and to ensure that citizens have personal identification documents, which would allow them to work legally in China.
It also calls on the government of China to grant Myanmar refugees access to safe refuge and humanitarian aid in order to reduce their vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking.
The risk of trafficking has risen as hundreds of thousands in Southeast Asia have been forced from their homes due to conflict, disasters and rapid industrial development, said Charlie Thame, a professor at Thammasat University in Bangkok.
“Conflict and development-induced displacement, and a lack of social protections, forces many to migrate,” he said.
“But the legal way to migrate is so restrictive. Many of these people lack legal documentation, and that makes them significantly more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.”
Around the world, some 15mn people were living in marriages into which they were forced, according to a report last year from the International Labour Organisation.