Demi Bride Trafficking: A Unique Trend of Human Trafficking from South-East Asia to China

Proceedings of ‏The Global Conference on Women’s Studies

Year: 2020


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Demi Bride Trafficking: A Unique Trend of Human Trafficking from South-East Asia to China

Laetitia Lhomme, Siren Zhong, Billie Du



Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and girls from Southeast Asia are being forced or tricked into marrying Chinese men who exploit them for sex and childbearing. Although an emerging body of research and reports has revealed the scale and living conditions of the trafficked brides, there have not yet been systematic studies that would help stakeholders to understand the real needs of the victims. Bride trafficking victims are generally defined as those who are deprived of their rights and married against their will. However, our investigation found that in China, cases which involve certain degrees of victims’ voluntary willing are barely covered by the current trafficking victim identification system, despite the existence of “the principle of the irrelevance of consent”. Due to the lack of unified measures and feasible research methods, empirical research on such groups is very limited. In an effort to fill this gap, this article identifies this category as “demi bride trafficking” and includes an academic exploration of the transnational trafficked marriages in China as well as a descriptive analysis based on the interviews of various NGOs, experts and government officials. By analysing the dysfunction of external interventions and the potential link between the Belt Road Initiative and the increasing number of human trafficking cases, this paper then suggests that currently, the most effective solution is to address it internally, focusing on fulfilling victims’ individual demands, which in turn requires an individual tailored victim protection system to be built.

Keywords: modern slavery; forced migrants; women empowerment; transnational crimes.