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.
Mai Mai Tsawm trafficked at 21, gradually gained permission to go to the market, where she met some other women also trafficked from Myanmar. One woman she met tried to run and was caught by her husband. She managed to steal her in-laws’ banking password and withdraw 2,000 yuan ($318) without their knowledge but did not know how to get home. Mai Mai Tsawm had met another trafficked woman and they both escaped back to Myanmar together. However, two months later, financially desperate, she returned to China and was trafficked again.
He tied her neck and hands and pulled the rope tight—he tied the rope to the end of a motorbike and dragged her behind the bike. The lady was screaming. I have seen these kinds of events. It made me shocked and I recognized that if I did not behave well or tried to run again, they will torture me.
For one person to get from there back to Myanmar would cost over 1,000 yuan [$159]. I had met a woman [from Myanmar] who was also trafficked there. I met her in the market. She knew the way back. I told her that I had 2,000 yuan and offered to pay for her transportation. We made a plan to both get out from our families. The next day, I pretended to have a toothache.
To get the train ticket, we would have to show an ID card. That is why I stole the family documents—I used them to get train tickets.
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