Thousands of impoverished ethnic minority women in Myanmar’s war-torn Kachin and Shan States have been forced into marriages in neighbouring China, say the authors of a new study published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
Thousands more disadvantaged women in the country’s mountainous northern most rural hinterland remain at risk of being trafficked across the border to marry local Chinese men against their will and bear children for them, the experts warn.
For the study, which is the most comprehensive research of its kind to date, experts from the American university teamed up with the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, a rights group, to conduct surveys in 40 communities around three adjacent administrative areas: Kachin State and northern Shan State as well as Yunnan province in China.
All told, researchers say, about 7,500 ethnic minority women in economically disadvantaged communities have in recent years been lured by human traffickers into forced marriages in China on false promises. Three-quarters of the women were found to have borne children in these unions.
“These women are usually undocumented, members of minorities, poor and undereducated, and don’t know how to get legal redress [after being trafficked]. This is known to traffickers who exploit it,” says W. Courtland Robinson, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health who was the study’s lead author.