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. Included in the types of slavery prevalent in China is forced labour, with China's unprecedented rise to the world's second largest economy and its domestic economy specialising in the production of labour-intensive, cheap goods for export, increasing the demand for cheap labour. Forced labour occurs in both the manufacturing and construction sectors, as well as more informal industries such as brick kilns and garment facoties. Many women are also tricked in to forced labour as domestic servants, lured by the promise of good jobs with high incomes they instead find themselves confined to the house and forced to work long hours with little or no pay.
Aung Ja* was 18 when a woman from Myitkina, northern Myanmar, convinced her to take a ‘factory’ job in China. She was rescued in 2017 and is taking part in a UN Women-supported trafficking prevention programme.
[The broker] convinced my aunty that I could get a job in China. I had stopped school and was not doing anything, so I needed a job. She showed me a picture of a phone factory, and a shoe-making factory. But when I arrived in China in May 2017, they forced me to get pregnant. They gave me pills for 10 days to prepare the womb. Then I went for a medical checkup to see if my womb was ready and they injected the sperm in the hospital, in total, three times.
I overheard that if I didn’t take the pills and jumped around in my room I would not get pregnant. So, the second time I jumped a lot and hid the pills and I didn’t get pregnant.
Women are paid 250,000 MMK [USD 160] for each month for the first five months of pregnancy, then 1 million MMK [USD 632] towards the end of the pregnancy and 1 million MMK again if they give birth. If it’s a girl, they would get paid less than if it’s boy.
I didn’t get out of the room for five months, only to go to the hospital, blindfolded. My only hope was that someone would help us escape or that I would be sent back…
I overheard that if pregnancy failed three times, they would release you if you paid 500,000 MMK [USD 320], so I informed my aunty. The village leaders, the police and Htoi advised my aunty to pay the money to get me back, because it was the only way they could get me back and report and investigate the case.
I came back along with five victims.
I felt ashamed after I came back because all the villagers knew that I was trafficked. But I feel better now. I received legal support and anti-trafficking awareness training from Htoi and I started sharing my experience with friends. I took a class to learn weaving, and now I earn 25,000 MMK for each piece of fabric I sell.
*Not their real name
Narrative provided by UN Women