Last year Chinese police freed 268 Burmese women who had been trafficked and forced into marriages with Chinese men. Human rights activists believe that this represents only a small fraction of the growing number of Burmese forced to marry Chinese husbands.
The causes of this disturbing trend lie both in China and Burma. Seeking to escape Burma’s military regime and the horribly mismanaged economy that the generals have created, young women are often lured by recruiters who speak of well paid employment in the world’s fastest growing economy. Many of the victims are from rural areas near China’s Yunnan province and belong to Burma’s persecuted ethnic minorities.
Beijing's "one child policy" combined with the long held national preference for male heirs, has resulted in China having a grossly lopsided male to female ratio, 120:100 in the year 2005. The massive shortage of potential brides is what drives many lonely Chinese men to resort to buying a foreign spouse.
Those women who are lucky enough to have escaped often tell a remarkably similar story. Usually they are recruited in their rural village and brought to the bustling towns on the Chinese side of the Sino/Burmese border. It is at this point that they are handed over to another trafficker who will take them as far away as Beijing for their "job interview". The price of a bride depends on her age and beauty, but for a Burmese woman a Chinese buyer will typically pay between 40,000 to 50,000 Yuan.
Once married, escape is difficult as the new bride is forced to do house work or farming for long hours and watched by her husband or his family members at all times. Those who have escaped, tell of rape, physical abuse and dire loneliness.