More than 7,400 women from Myanmar have been forced to marry Chinese men between 2013 and 2017, the authors of a new study said on Friday.
Most of those women were also forced to bear children, according to the study, written by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, KWAT.
It includes surveys of more than 400 women in more than 40 locations in Myanmar and China.
China’s previous one-child policy has resulted in a population disparity, in which men outnumber women by 34 million, fuelling demand for trafficked women from neighbouring countries.
Conflict, land confiscation and other human rights abuses by the Myanmar government in border areas, primarily in Shan and Kachin states, have forced thousands of undocumented women into the arms of traffickers.
This has also ultimately resulted in forced marriages that they cannot escape from, the researchers said.
“Victims of forced marriage suffer a range of rights violations and exposure to physical and psychological risks,’’ said Courtland Robinson, an associate professor at the Bloomberg School and the study’s lead author.
“This research draws attention to the scope of the problem and to the urgent need for support services for victims.’’
The study calls on Myanmar to end its internal conflicts and to ensure that citizens have personal identification documents, which would allow them to work legally in China.
It also calls on the government of China to grant Myanmar refugees access to a safe refuge and humanitarian aid in order to reduce their vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking.