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Ja Htoi Tsawm

2019 (Narrative date)

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.

Ja Htoi Tsawm travelled to China often to do agricultural work for a few weeks or months at a time to support her four children after her husband, a drug user, abandoned the family. On a trip there in 2013, at age 29, she was trafficked by a woman she befriended as they worked together in a sugarcane field. She was held captive for two years. While she was gone, her in-laws sold her house and took the money. They put one of her children in an orphanage, and another of her children died while she was away.

I discovered that I was in the house of a Chinese man. I had to have sex with the man every night. If I denied him, he would threaten me with knives…I had to do lots of house work. I had to wash their clothes, cook for them, give a bath to his parents.


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