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Seng Ja Ban

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. 

Seng Ja Ban and her friend were offered work in a restaurant in China, and the travel to get there, by a broker. A second broker took her to Kumming, the capital city of Yunnan province and left her in a train station. There, two Chinese men grabbed her and the friend she was travelling with and forced them on to a train. With no money and unable to communicate, Seng Ja Ban stayed on the train for three days. Ja Ban and her friend were separated and Seng Ja Ban was forced to marry a Chinese man. She was able to escape after 5 years, however her friend never made it back to Myanmar and Seng Ja Ban had to leave her child behind.

I believed her and thought I was so lucky.

The broker told me there would be no need to use it [my ID card] in China, and if someone found it, they would know we were illegal. So that’s why she took the ID card.


Me and my friend tried to stay together – we held each other and tried to stay together. But the Chinese men got mad and dragged us apart. I had to go with the Chinese husband.

I was locked in the room for one year. Before I had a baby, the family members – especially the mother in law – treated me badly. Her face was furious. Sometimes they didn’t feed me because I didn’t get pregnant as soon as possible.

They gave me many medicines. I did not know what they were…Once a week I was injected. Sometimes I had a big drip [of intravenous fluid]. Every week they took me to the clinic. I did not know what the medicine was, or why I had to take it. Sometimes I had to try herbal medicine and they cooked it and boiled it and I had to drink it. I assume it was to make me pregnant. Some of the medicines made me allergic. Sometimes I became itchy on my skin.

After we give birth, no one cares about us anymore.

I did not give birth naturally, I had to have an operation. When I did this, the Chinese family told the doctor to cut a part of my womb so that I could not have any more children. I didn’t know this at the time. When I came back to Myanmar I went to the hospital and got news and was told that a part of my womb doesn’t work, so I cannot have a baby. 


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