Pakistani Christian girls sold in China’s ‘bride market’

Muqadas Ashraf is one of hundreds of poor Christian girls who have been trafficked to China

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From Pakistan’s Christian minority, hundreds of women and girls have been trafficked to China as brides in recent months as their country becomes a new marriage market for Chinese men.

A girl named Muqadas Ashraf was just 16 when her parents married her off to a Chinese man who had come to Pakistan looking for a bride. Just less than five months later, Muqadas is back in her home country, pregnant and looking for divorce from her husband she says was abusive. Muqadas Ashraf is one of hundreds of poor Christian girls who have been trafficked to China in a market for brides that have swiftly grown in Pakistan since late last year, activists say.

The brokers are aggressively seeking out girls for Chinese men, sometimes even traveling outside churches to ask for potential brides. It is noticed that they are being helped by Christian clerics paid to target needy parents in their congregation with promises of wealth in exchange for their daughters.

The parents receive several thousand dollars and are told that their new sons-in-law are wealthy Christian converts as well. The grooms turn out to be neither; as per numerous brides, their parents, an activist, pastors and government officials, all of whom spoken to The Associated Press.

Muqadas said that Chinese men are making false commitments. “And it is all fraud,” she said. Ejaz Alam Augustine, the human rights and minorities’ minister in Pakistan’s Punjab province, said the Chinese government is responsible for what he called “human trafficking.” He blamed the Chinese government and its embassy in Pakistan of turning a blind eye to the practice by unthinkingly issuing visas and documents.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected that with saying “China has zero tolerance for illegal transnational marriage agencies.” The Chinese embassy expressed last month that China is cooperating with Pakistan to crack down on illegal matchmaking centers. The Associated Press interrogated more than a dozen Christian Pakistani brides and would be brides who fled before substituting vows. Entirely had parallel accounts of a process involving brokers and members of the clergy, including telling houses where they were taken to see potential husbands and spend their wedding nights in Islamabad, the country’s capital, and Lahore, the capital of the province of Punjab. In China the demand for foreign brides has mounted, a legacy of the one child policy that tilted the country’s gender balance toward males. The Brides primarily came largely from Vietnam, Laos and North Korea. Currently men are looking further afield, and Pakistan appears to have come onto marriage brokers’ radar late last year. Pakistan’s small Christian 

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