Thou­sands of Myan­mar women forced to marry in China: study

Gulf Times - - ASIA -

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.

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