PKONWEB Report – The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested on Monday eight Chinese nationals and four Pakistanis in raids in Punjab province in connection with trafficking. The raids followed a sting operation that included attending an arranged marriage.
According to details, the FIA busted a cell involved in trafficking girls to China, a day after a similar gang was unearthed in Lahore involved in marrying Pakistani girls and taking them to China.
An FIA official told The News/Geo that the Chinese nationals were involved in fake marriages with Pakistani girls and later using them for prostitution and organ removal after contracting marriages.
The crackdown was launched by the FIA after reports that poor Christian girls in the Punjab were being trapped by the Chinese men with the help of Pakistani agents.
According Associated Press (AP), citing activist, it reports that hundreds of poor Christian girls have been trafficked to China in a market for brides that has swiftly grown in Pakistan since late last year.
Headlined, “China marriage market targets Pakistan’s Christian minority”, the American news agency brokers are aggressively seeking out girls for Chinese men, sometimes even cruising outside churches to ask for potential brides, said the report. “They are being helped by Christian clerics paid to target impoverished parents in their congregation with promises of wealth in exchange for their daughters.”
Parents receive several thousand dollars and are told that their new sons-in-law are wealthy Christian converts. The grooms turn out to be neither, according to several brides, their parents, an activist, pastors and government officials, all of whom spoke to AP. Once in China, the girls — most often married against their will — can find themselves isolated in remote rural regions, vulnerable to abuse, unable to communicate and reliant on a translation app even for a glass of water.
“This is human smuggling,” said Ijaz Alam Augustine, the human rights and minorities minister in Pakistan’s Punjab province, in an interview with the AP. “Greed is really responsible for these marriages … I have met with some of these girls and they are very poor.”
“It is all fraud and cheating. All the promises they make are fake,” said Muqadas Ashraf to AP. She was just 16 when her parents married her off to a Chinese man who had come to Pakistan looking for a bride. Less than five months later, Muqadas is back in her home country, pregnant and seeking a divorce from a husband she says was abusive.
Augustine accused the Chinese government and its embassy in Pakistan of turning a blind eye to the practice by unquestioningly issuing visas and documents. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied that, saying China has zero tolerance for illegal transnational marriage agencies.
Human Rights Watch called on China and Pakistan to take action to end bride trafficking, warning in an April 26 statement of “increasing evidence that Pakistani women and girls are at risk of sexual slavery in China.”
The Chinese embassy said last month that China is cooperating with Pakistan to crack down on unlawful matchmaking centers, saying “both Chinese and Pakistani youths are victims of these illegal agents.”
Pakistan seems to have come onto marriage brokers’ radar late last year, according to AP.
Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist, said he first began to see significant numbers of marriage to Chinese men in October. Since then, an estimated 750 to 1,000 girls have been married off, he said.