Many Asian countries are concerned about the trafficking of females and kids. Children and women are exposed to sexual manipulation, begging and soliciting, manual labour, and domestic chores. Many are smuggled within China to be traded for forced marriage or, in the particular instance of baby boys, adoption. Women and kids smuggled are frequently subjected to virtual enslavement, with little or no control over their lives and destinies. Trafficking of women and children is becoming a global issue due to localized economic growth, increasing economic discrepancies, and enhanced communications. Trafficking of women and kids began in China in the early 1970s and became widespread in the late 1980s. Today, it jeopardizes the social stability and growth of numerous rural households and communities. It wreaks havoc on the lives of millions of individuals who are either direct or indirect victims. Human smuggling has overtaken drug and arms trafficking as the third-largest source of income for global criminal gangs worldwide. The illegal human trafficking industry generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.
In Chinese history, trading women for marriage has been a common cultural practice. According to the Global Slavery Index, approximately 3.8 million individuals dwelled in modern-day slavery in China on almost any given day in 2016, an incidence of 2.8 victims per thousand inhabitants in the nation. The data for organ trafficking is not included in this estimation. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) makes information on human trafficking investigations and prosecutions public. MPS asserted that in 2016, they explored 1,004 cases of human trafficking and detained 2,036 persons (McCarthy, 2016). There were 45 alleged cases of forced labour among those investigated, resulting in the detention of 74 persons. The Chinese authorities have detained 464 persons involved in the labour trafficking of people with disabilities in one probe. According to McCarthy (2016), media reports from 2007 to 2008 indicate that the source regions are primarily southwestern territories like Yunnan and Guizhou. The destination territories are primarily in eastern and central zones. For instance, in Fujian, Guangdong, Henan, and Shandong, the gender balance is more lopsided at 119 males for 100 females. In Yunnan, for example, 85 females and kids were freed from kidnapping in less than four months in 2004.
Notwithstanding a decrease in abduction occurrences and the sale of children and women, the Ministry of Public Security estimates that 10,000 females and kids are auctioned each year, predominantly in China’s southwestern provinces (McCarthy, 2016). Several of the victims came to China to seek a better life, only to be duped and promised well-paying jobs, enlisted, and pushed into arranged marriages. According to reports, in 2017, 114 Myanmar girls were liberated from arranged marriages (McCarthy, 2016). May Khine, 17, was sold twice to forced marriages in China within 13 years after being intoxicated on a subway by the water supplied by a couple. After engaging a student group via the Chinese WeChat messaging service, she escaped, abandoning her two children behind in China.
People who are frail and easier to exploit are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Various aspects are considered the primary societal and personal variables that potentially contribute to persons becoming vulnerable to human trafficking. Foremost, fraudulent job offers are said to be used by smugglers to entice international women to come to China. In some circumstances, women might well be persuaded, drugged, and abducted by traffickers. Females from China and those from neighbouring nations, including North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, and those from further away in the Americas and Africa, are vulnerable to trafficking for coerced sex work and arranged marriages (Finkel & Finkel, 2015). Every year, a significant number of North Korean females travel to China, with agents often aiding their trip with the intent of selling them against their own will to Chinese houses or compelling them into sex labour once they arrive. According to a recent UN Commission of Enquiry report, North Korean women have been sold or smuggled into arranged marriages and sexually exploited by their “spouses” or other male relatives (Finkel & Finkel, 2015). However, little is known regarding child sex abuse in China. It has been reported that “children, along with “left-behind” kids who are cared for by family members in their native lands, and girls from neighbouring nations such as China, Russia, and Mongolia, are smuggled into sexual abuse and arranged marriages.
Within China, there are substantial income differences by region and also a considerable income discrepancy between cities. The western area of China is substantially less industrialized than the eastern region, which has the highest per capita. Poverty is the primary motivator for rural Chinese immigration, as their levels of education and earnings are often lower than those of metropolitan Chinese. These persons, unable to find a job in their places of origin, join China’s “floating populace” of migrant labourers who migrate from villages to cities in quest of employment. According to Iannone (2019), a 2015 government assessment asserts that the number of migrants is 277.47 million, with 404.10 million persons employed in metro regions. As a result, migrants make up approximately 67 percent of the metropolitan workforce. Internal trafficking spreads to more financially developed areas in China’s east, such as Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangsu, and Shandong.
The market economy’s revolutionary force may be seen in China’s spectacular economic ascent over the last half-century. China has overtaken the United States as the largest economy and importer. A domestic market specializing in manufacturing labour-intensive, low-cost items for export has accounted for most of the country’s economic growth. Forced labour is mainly used in manufacturing and assembling these commodities and in more informal businesses. Notwithstanding signs of a wider issue, forced labour is unreported, primarily in the local press. Forced child labour was exposed in a textile plant in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, in 2016, where minor labourers were assailed if they declined to work for extra hours. If they attempted to flee, their visas and smartphones were also seized. Six immobilised individuals were liberated from forced labour in a steel factory in Yunnan in 2016, where they had been forced to conduct extremely demanding work without remuneration. Other China’s labour-intensive industries also create a need for low-wage international labour. The sugar industry employs almost 50,000 undocumented Vietnamese labourers in China’s southern Guangxi province. Illegal aliens from Vietnam have been identified in large numbers in industrial cities in Southern China (McCarthy, 2016). Chinese human smuggling cartels collaborate with Vietnamese gangs to sneak these labourers into the nation. The cartels benefit by demanding a percentage of the labourers’ monthly earnings and charging fees to the company owners.
After narcotics and arms trafficking, human smuggling has become the third-largest source of money for global illegal groups. It now poses a threat to the sustained growth of numerous rural households and communities and wrecking the lives of millions of persons who are direct or indirect casualties. The facts show that trafficking victims, particularly children, remain highly susceptible to further enslavement because they lack livelihood opportunities and accessibility to benefits, have unlawful status (if smuggled outside their countries of origin), and are frequently incapable of communicating in the native dialect. Many Chinese women and children who have become victims of trafficking have been sold and trafficked repeatedly.
Finkel, R., & Finkel, M. L. (2015). The ‘dirty downside’of global sporting events: Focus on human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Public health, 129(1), 17-22.
Iannone, D. (2019). Fighting Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia. Legal analysis of female trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage in Myanmar and China (Bachelor’s thesis, Università Ca’Foscari Venezia).
McCarthy, L. A. (2016). Trafficking Justice. Cornell University Press.