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Category: Education

Brides for Sale in China

July 19, 2010

[caption id="attachment_9171" align="alignright" width="249" caption="Woman sold into marriage on her "wedding day". "]Woman sold into marrage on her "wedding day". [/caption] China’s One Child Policy has been met with much opposition due to the subsequent practice of some families to abort female fetuses, in the hope of having a son to uphold the family name and traditions.  This preference has left the country with an imbalance of the genders. In 2009, for every 100 females born there were 119 male babies. As these males grow, becoming the head of the household, the search for female partners becomes increasingly difficult.  It is estimated that the number of single men in their thirties to single women is 10 to 1. Families are turning to less conventional (as well as less legal) forms of finding a wife for their sons. An unfortunate popular alternative for rural families struggling to find single young women in their local area is human trafficking. Young women are taken from neighboring countries, such as Burma, North Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Laos, with the promise of a better life and/or money for their families. Not long after being taken from their families or being tricked into fictional job opportunities, these young girls are sold for as little as $700 US dollars. They are married to rural farmers and kept as prisoner wives. Adding to the problem is the human trafficking of young Chinese girls into Thailand’s sex slave industry. Chinese women are frequently targeted because they are considered by some to be more stereotypically desirable for their supposed “whiter” skin and “quiet personalities”. As these girls are thrown into the streets or brothels for prostitution, they are purchased by Chinese businessmen traveling in Thailand.  Since prostitution is legal in places such as Thailand and Hong Kong, this is problematic. The Chinese government and international human rights groups, are aware of this and are attempting to combat the trafficking.  Human traffickers are hard to prevent when conditions are stacked so high against the victims.  Women in China and the surrounding countries lack equal access to education and often struggle to find work in their home areas. Dr. Tu Lum, of Health Unlimited, stated “The status of women is very low and girls are not well educated. People are so poor, and they will always rush to any place if they hear there is a job opportunity. So many people get cheated like this." Especially in poor rural areas, families cannot afford to send their daughters to higher education systems, further limiting job opportunities to women in the countryside. These young girls and women become easy victims of deceit when job opportunities are at stake. One way the Chinese government is attempting to prevent bride trafficking is to create a culture that is more “daughter friendly”. Monetary incentives are being offered to families for keeping female children, and China is attempting to create strong female role models. With many Chinese men unable to find Chinese wives and consequently being forced into a life of bachelorhood, China fears it is facing an unstable future.