BEIJING: Chinese police have rescued 32 Vietnamese women who were sold as brides to Chinese farmers, authorities said Thursday, in an operation aimed at curbing the practice in the impoverished countryside.
Authorities arrested 75 suspects who were allegedly part of a ring that lured women to southwest China’s Yunnan province with promises of tourism and work, Yunnan Public Security Department said in a statement posted on its official social media account.
The victims were kept in large numbers in “captive families” in Yunnan—close to the Vietnamese border—in remote, mountainous areas before being sold to people in six provinces in central and east China, state broadcaster CCTV said.
When one victim tried to escape, “two men caught me and beat me with a steel pipe,” she told reporters. “They threatened me when I refused to be their bride.”
Bride trafficking is a serious problem in China, where women are sold to men, mostly in rural areas, who cannot find wives at home because of the country’s huge gender imbalance.
The problem is particularly serious in impoverished areas, where farmers see “buying” a bride from abroad as cheaper than paying a dowry for a Chinese bride.
For decades, the country’s strict one-child policy led many traditional Chinese families—who prefer sons to daughters—to have sex-selective abortions, skewing the country’s gender ratio.
Police began investigating the case in September 2015 after discovering a woman, who did not speak Chinese, had been sold as a bride from Vietnam for 80,000 yuan ($11,600), the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The 32 rescued women are being transferred back to Vietnam, CCTV said.
Chinese police “rescued and repatriated” 1,281 abducted foreign women in 2012 alone, most of them from Southeast Asia, the state-run China Daily reported.
Human traffickers could face the death penalty in China. AFP