NEW YORK: US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback claimed that Pakistan is marketing Hindu and Christian women as “concubines” and “forced brides” to China.
Talking to reports on Tuesday, the top US diplomat for religious freedom said that one of the sources of “forced brides” for the Chinese men is “religious minorities, Christian and Hindu women, being marketed as concubines and as forced as brides into China”.
That was happening “because there’s not effective support and there’s discrimination against religious minorities that make them more vulnerable,” he said.
He mentioned this as one of the reasons for designating Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act. Besides Pakistan, China, Myanmar Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have been put on the CPC list.
Because of the one-child policy imposed by China for decades, there is an acute shortage of women given the cultural preference for boys leading to Chinese men importing women from other countries as brides, mistresses and labourers.
In December 2019, news agency Associated Press had accessed a list of 629 Pakistani girls and women, who were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China in 2018 and up to early 2019. The list was prepared by Pakistani investigators.
Once the “forced brides” arrive in China, they are usually kept in isolation, ignored, abused and sold into prostitution. The AP probe had revealed that traffickers target Pakistan’s poverty-stricken Christian population, pay an amount to desperate families to marry off their daughters and sisters to Chinese men.
“No one is doing anything to help these girls,” the news agency had quoted one of the officials familiar with the events as saying. “The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won’t follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now.”