By Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA) - A leading international rights group on Thursday demanded the governments of Myanmar and China give greater attention to cross-border "bride" trafficking.
In a newly released report "Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go": Trafficking of Kachin "Brides" from Myanmar to China, Human Rights Watch (HRW) detailed the trafficking of women and girls from Myanmar’s northern Kachin state and northeastern Shan state into sexual slavery in China.
Among 37 survivors, HRW interviewed for the report is an ethnic Kachin woman who was only 16 when she was trafficked by her sister-in-law to a Chinese family.
She was raped several times while the family who bought her held her in a locked room for nearly two months.
After two months, she was dragged out of the room and informed she was now betrothed to the Chinese man who raped her during her month-long detention.
"The father of the Chinese man said 'Here is your husband. Now you are a married couple'," the now 21-year old was quoted in the report.
The report quotes trafficking survivors as saying that trusted people promised them jobs in China but instead sold them for the equivalent of between $3,000 and $13,000 to Chinese families.
It was common for the women to be locked in a room and raped so they would become pregnant, it added.
"Myanmar and Chinese authorities are looking away while unscrupulous traffickers are selling Kachin women and girls into captivity and unspeakable abuse," said HRW’s acting women’s rights co-director Heather Barr.
She said China’s now-abolished one-child policy created a gender imbalance in the country as it now has 30 to 40 million "missing women."
"Some families cope with the lack of marriageable women by buying trafficked women or girls," it said.
HRW said it was difficult to estimate the number of women and girls being trafficked as brides to China. According to the Myanmar government, about 226 cases were reported in 2017, with the real number believed to be much higher.
The watchdog urged the governments of China and Myanmar as well as some ethnic rebel groups such as the Kachin Independence Organization, to do more to prevent trafficking, recover and assist victims and prosecute traffickers.