At least 629 Pakistani girls and women have been sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China, says an exclusive report by AP news. The Associated Press obtained a list of trafficked Pakistani women prepared by the Pakistani investigators doggedly pursuing the ongoing trafficking of poor and vulnerable people.
Taking the help of Pakistan’s integrated border management system, which digitally records travel documents at the country’s various airports, Pakistani investigators had come up with a list of 629 women with their details such as brides’ national identity numbers, their Chinese husbands’ names and the dates of their marriage. As per investigation officials, almost all these women were ‘sold’ to Chinese men by their families.
An investigation official, who has years of experience in studying human trafficking in Pakistan, said that the lucrative trade of selling girls as brides to Chinese men continues unabated. He also claimed that the Chinese and Pakistani brokers earn anywhere between 4 million and 10 million rupees ($25,000 and $65,000) from the groom, but the girl’s family is fobbed off with about 200,000 rupees($1500) only. In addition to this, the official revealed that many women who spoke to investigators talked about being subjected to forced fertility treatments, physical and sexual abuse and, in some cases, forced prostitution.
There is a rising demand for foreign brides in China owing to the country’s skewed population ratio. Following the end of one-child-policy in 2015, China was stuck with roughly 34 million more men than women. In addition to this, the overwhelming majority’s preference for boys has also led to abortions of girl children and female infanticide. There are several reports now stating that this bride trafficking business is rapidly spreading to other countries with brides from Myanmar, North Korea, Nepal and Vietnam being trafficked to China.
The report claims that it is the latest number of girls/women yet caught up in the trafficking cases since 2018. However, the investigations into trafficking have been suppressed by the Pakistani government, lest they adversely impact its ties with Beijing. China has been an all-weather ally of Pakistan and perhaps the only country with a monetary heft to be siding with Pakistan. The Pakistani regime doesn’t want to irk its Chinese mandarins and therefore it has hustled the Pakistani investigators into putting brakes on the trafficking investigations.
Recently, in October, a Faisalabad court absolved 31 Chinese involved in trafficking. According to a court official, several of the women who had earlier been interviewed by the police refused to testify in the court of law possibly because they were either bribed or threatened.
Salim Iqbal, a Christian activist, who helped many parents in getting their daughters back from China and prevented others from being sent there claimed that the government has been trying very hard to put a lid on the investigations by applying immense pressure on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks.
When asked about the ubiquitous trafficking cases tumbling out in the country, Pakistan’s interior and foreign ministries refused to comment on the issue.
According to some officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the fear of retribution, the investigations have been slowed down, resulting in the growing frustrations of the investigators. The media houses have been coerced into not reporting on the trafficking cases, he claimed.
The Chinese Ministry stated that it was not aware of any such list prepared by the Pakistani investigators. The Ministry reportedly sent out a fax to AP saying that both China and Pakistan support the formation of happy families between their people on a voluntary basis in keeping with laws and regulations. It also said that they are staunchly and resolutely fighting against any person engaging in illegal cross-border marriage behaviour.
The AP report also states that the Pakistani investigation agency probing the pervasive trafficking in the country shared a report titled ‘Fake Chinese marriages cases’ with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The report entailed detail account of cases registered against 52 Chinese nationals and 20 of their Pakistani associates in two cities in eastern Punjab province, Faisalabad, and Lahore, as well as in the capital Islamabad. The Faisalabad later acquitted the 31 Chinese nationals involved in the case.
Today, Pakistan has been a foremost beneficiary of Chinese largesse. Pakistan also uses its strong-ties with China to negate the obvious superiority of India. China has been generously investing millions of dollars in the dwindling Pakistani economy through its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. It has promised Pakistan of sprawling infrastructural development and pledged $75 billion in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. This generosity of China has made Pakistan turn a blind eye to the horrifying atrocities committed on the Uighur Muslim population of Xinjiang province as well as to the plight of women sold off to the Chinese men.