The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China. Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them.
Seng Moon’s family fled fighting in Myanmar’s Kachin State in 2011 and wound up struggling to survive in a camp for internally displaced people. In 2014 when Seng Moon was 16 and attending fifth grade, her sister in law said she knew of a job as a cook in China’s neighbouring Yunnan province. Seng Moon did not want to go but the promised wage was far more than she could make in the IDP camp. In the car, Seng Moon’s sister-in-law gave her something she said prevented car sickness. Seng Moon fell asleep immediately and when she woke up, she was in China. She was forced to marry a Chinese man and seven months later was pregnant. After her son was born, Seng Moon asked to go home, her husband told her no one would stop her, but she couldn’t take her child. Over two years after being trafficked to China, Seng Moon met a Kachin woman in the market who gave her 1000 yuan to help her return to Myanmar with her son.
When I woke up my hands were tied behind my back. I cried and shouted and asked for help. [My sister-in-law told me] ‘Now you have to get married to a Chinese man’.
I wore jeans and a red blouse – they gave it to me to wear. The tied me with a red ribbon. No one ever asked me if I wanted to be married.
My sister-in-law left me at the home. When I entered the home, the family members talked to me, but I didn’t know what they were saying. The family took me to a room. In that room I was tied up again. The man tied me up. They locked the door—for one or two months. When it was time for meals, they sent meals in. I was crying… Each time when the Chinese man brought me meals, he raped me. There was a window, but the window was black, so I didn’t know whether it was day or night. Whenever he brought the meal, he said ‘have the meal’. I said, ‘When you leave the meal I will eat it’. But he usually raped me before I had the meal.
After two months, they dragged me out of the room. The father of the Chinese man said, “Here is your husband. Now you are a married couple. Be nice to each other and build a happy family”.
He just kept saying, ‘I bought you. You are my wife – I bought you’. They knew I didn’t have any willingness to stay – that’s why they locked me in a room. The first time I didn’t accept – I tried to escape. We were fighting each other in the room so many times, but after two or three months I thought ‘This is useless’, so I stopped fighting.
I’m afraid. If the police hear my story, they will try to find the Chinese family - and the Chinese family will try to find me. I’m afraid they will find me.
People might think that people trafficked to China have behaved in ways that are not good and that’s why they were trafficked.
My first husband, I tried to – really tried to – explain to him what happened. But he didn’t accept it and we weren’t happy, so we divorced. He didn’t believe me.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go”: Trafficking of Kachin “Brides” from Myanmar to China