China is reportedly considering scrapping its decades-long family planning policies that limit the number of children couples can have. In doing so, it may actually help curb human trafficking.
The state family planning policies have contributed to gendercide in China for years, leaving China with a severe gender imbalance as there significantly fewer women than men.
Chinese men, particularly those who come from rural and impoverished backgrounds, who have struggled to find a wife have thus turned to illicit marriage brokers that recruit women from nations like Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos and sell them as brides. According to a UN report from 2016, Chinese men typically pay $10,000 and $20,000 to brokers for a foreign wife.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
Campaigners were cautiously hopeful after a Chinese state-run newspaper said this week that all content on family planning has been dropped in a draft civil code being considered by top lawmakers, signaling a possible end to the policy.
“This is good news, although it will take a long time to realize the impact,” said Michael Brosowski, founder of Hanoi-based charity Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which rescues Vietnamese trafficking victims.
“Countries such as Vietnam have been battling the trafficking of their women into slavery in China, and until the demographic disparity is dealt with, there’s simply no way to stop this from happening,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
China has been loosening its family planning policy as its population ages, birth rates slow and its workforce declines.
In 2016, the government allowed couples in urban areas to have two children, replacing a one-child policy enforced since 1979.
Still, the effects of any policy change will take years to see. As Diep Vuong, president of the U.S.-based Pacific Links Foundation, pointed out, “Female babies born now won’t be of marriageable age for many years.”
Cambodian women’s rights group Silaka is still skeptical that any change in Chinese policy would stop bride trafficking.
“Cambodian women are going abroad because of a lack of economic resources here,” said Im Phanim from Silaka.