New research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) reports that 7,400 women and girls in Myanmar have been trafficked for forced marriage to China.
5,000 of them were forced to bear children with their Chinese husbands.
The research focused specifically on Kachin State and Northern Shan State in Myanmar and a border area in Yunnan Province.
“Victims of forced marriage suffer a range of rights violations and exposure to physical and psychological risks,” said Courtland Robinson, PhD, associate professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School.
“This research draws attention to the scope of the problem and to the urgent need for support services for victims.”
The report, “Estimating trafficking of Myanmar women for forced marriage and childbearing in China,” is the first systematic effort to quantify the scale of a problem that has important implications for cross-border migration and marriage policies and protection programs.
There are 34 million more males than females in China as a result of China’s previous longstanding one-child policy, and this disparity is fueling bride trafficking from neighboring countries.
In Myanmar, conditions resulting from conflict, land confiscation, forced relocation and human rights abuses have spurred widespread landlessness and joblessness, resulting in increased migration to China. Lacking proper documentation, language and education, Myanmar women are increasingly at risk of trafficking, including into forced marriage.
Nearly 40 percent of women reported being forced into marriage in the districts examined in the report.
Roughly 65 percent of the women in forced marriages entered the arrangement through a recruiter or broker and, thus, met the criteria for being trafficked into forced marriage. One-third of the women interviewed bore children while in a forced marriage to a Chinese man and, thus, met the study’s definition of being a victim of forced childbearing.
The conclusions were based on researchers’ household surveys of a total of 400 women over the age of 18 in 40 sites in Myanmar and China, conducted between June 2017 and April 2018.
The study also found that victims of forced marriage were 6.5 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence. In addition, they were 4.7 times more likely to suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth and 4.6 times more likely to suffer the death of at least one child.