In 2017, the Freedom Fund aims to launch a new hotspot focused on reducing the number of Myanmar women and girls trafficked into China for forced marriage and child bearing. We are currently fundraising for this program.
Child and forced marriage of Myanmar girls and women to Chinese men is a significant problem that has largely gone unreported and unfunded. China’s one-child policy and the corresponding shortage of Chinese women of reproductive age has led to a “marriage squeeze”. By 2025-2030, an estimated 22 to 30 million Chinese men will be unable to find women to marry. One consequence of the marriage squeeze is that girls and women from Myanmar have been forced to marry Chinese men, forced to bear children and pushed into domestic servitude.
Myanmar’s economy is largely agrarian. Two-thirds of the population live in rural areas and 40% of GDP comes from agriculture. Myanmar’s economy has not grown at the same rate as its neighbours, especially China and Thailand. “Pull” factors such as jobs and higher wages abroad have combined with a range of “push” factors – including poverty, conflict in ethnic areas, and repression – to cause this high level of migration. At the same time, tens of thousands have been trafficked along the same migration routes, ending up in slavery and forced labour in the destination countries.
This growing problem has been known about for years—yet it is severely under-reported, under-researched, and under-funded, despite the fact that the Myanmar government’s own records show this is the most common form of trafficking that authorities prosecute each year.
The Freedom Fund will support local groups who have been working on this issue to intensify and scale up their efforts. The Freedom Fund will also work with the Myanmar government – and through it, the Chinese government – to improve interventions and promote better policies. The Hotspot will focus on the states of Kachin, Northern Shan and Eastern Shan.
The hotspot strategy focuses on three objectives: