629 girls and women . . .
Pakistani investigators have compiled a list of 629 girls and women who have been allegedly trafficked to China from the South Asian nation since 2018. According to Associated Press, these girls and women were secured as brides for Chinese men. In China, many of them experienced isolation, physical and sexual abuse, forced fertility treatments, and even coerced prostitution. Bride trafficking to China has been very lucrative to Chinese and Pakistani brokers, who make between C$33,000 to C$86,000 per ‘bride.’ Traffickers often target impoverished families from marginalized Christian communities, promising high-wage jobs across the border to their daughters.
34 million men . . .
According to a Human Rights Watch report published this month, China is the destination of trafficked ‘brides’ from a growing list of countries including Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and North Korea. Victims are from poor, vulnerable communities, so they already have little protection within their home countries. China’s gender imbalance sustains this ‘business’ – an unintended consequence of the One-Child policy that has left 34 million more men than women. As a result, some Chinese families resort to purchasing trafficked brides for their single sons.
C$99 billion on the line . . .
Advocates and officials close to the investigations claim that Pakistan’s government has pressured the national Federal Investigation Agency to stop probing into the matter, fearing such efforts could sour relationships with the country's all-weather ally, China. As part of the Belt and Road Initiative’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan received a C$99-billion infrastructural investment package to develop major works, from roads to power plants. Other countries with trafficked brides face similar asymmetrical power and economic relationships with China, and analysts doubt these nations will discuss difficult topics like action against bride trafficking in negotiations with their powerful neighbour. However, the Asia-Pacific Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing + 25 could be a viable platform for action. The document was adopted last month at the Ministerial Conference organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission in Asia and the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Beijing and 36 other nations are signatories – reaffirming their 25-year commitment to accelerating action toward gender equality.