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Htoi Nu Ja

2019 (Narrative date)

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China. Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. 

Htoi Nu Ja was 36 when she was promised work in Myitkyina. She took her two year old son with her, however upon arrival at the bus station, she was drugged, taken to China, separated from her child and sold. She forced to marry a Chinese man who was physically and sexually abusive.

We arrived in Myitkyina bus station. They asked me if I was hungry and I said ‘yes.’ We tried some noodles and coffee, and then I don’t remember what happened. I fainted.


They fed us sometimes, but not always. After three days they brought the men to the compound. There was a high fence, so no one could see what was happening inside the compound. Outside the room they showed me to 10 men. At that time is was morning, 7 a.m. They separated me from my baby and showed me to the men. The original broker had gone, and a second broker came and showed me to the men and asked me which one I liked. When I said I didn’t like any of the men, the broker slapped me. This continued for a few days and I kept refusing. Then the broker raped me. The broker got mad—to calm himself down at night he raped me. It was a violent rape. When I did not take off my clothes he beat me.

They kept slapping me and told me to choose a guy, [saying] ‘You’re not a beauty’. [After a week] I chose a Chinese man…a 40-year old man.

When I arrived, I met him and his parents. I didn’t know the language. But according to their facial expressions, they were nice to me. [But] that night the Chinese man raped me. Then he locked me in the room for the whole day. …He came in and had sex with me every night. But one night it could not be okay anymore—it hurt too much. One night I refused to take off my clothes. The Chinese man kicked me, and I hit the corner of the wall. That’s how I got this scar.

His parents didn’t know what was happening. They just let him lock me in the room and whenever he wanted sex with me he just came in.

[When she returned to the IDP camp, people would say] This happened because you were foolish.



Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go”: Trafficking of Kachin “Brides” from Myanmar to China