Discount Wives: China's Bride Trafficking Business


Sochoeun’s excitement peaked as glittering China grew larger in the window of her descending airplane. She had daydreamed about visiting China for years and now she finally had the chance to see it. A new city, new job, and new life awaited her in this shiny modern place. “It was amazing when the airplane landed in China,” Sochoeun said. “It looked so modern and I thought everything I’d dreamed of was true.”

However, when Sochoeun arrived at the house of the man who was supposed to be setting up her factory job, it was clear that she was not getting the work she agreed to do. It had only been two weeks since friends of Sochoeun’s uncle told her about an opportunity for work and got her a passport, new clothes, and a plane ticket to China. Now, standing in a remote house far from the city, Sochoeun began rethinking her decision to leave her rural Cambodian village.


Shortly after her arrival, Sochoeun and the two other Cambodian women who came with her were told to make themselves look nice while numerous Chinese men came and viewed them. One by one, the men chose their favorite girl and took them away. Sochoeun was the last one to go.

Sochoeun was selected by a forty-something year old man who brought her back to his home in a small industrial town where he and his seven family members lived. “From the beginning, I don’t know if it was rape or not, but he forced me to have sex with him many times a day.” Sochoeun said of the man. “When I refused to sleep with him he hit me,” she continued, “I had to work a lot too.”

The situation was certainly not as Sochoeun had expected. What happened to her dream city and perfect job?

Sochoeun had been trafficked. The new job, fancy clothes, and promise of a better life were all a lie. She had been shipped over the border to become the wife of one of China’s lonely bachelors. “Life there was like a slave and a sex slave,” she said. “All they wanted was for me to get pregnant.” Whether Sochoeun knew it or not, her life there was precisely that of a sex slave--and she’s not the only one who’s been tricked into that lifestyle.

On May 5th, a total of 10 mothers and fathers visited the office of the deputy bureau chief of the Kampong Cham anti-human trafficking department in Cambodia with reports that their daughters were being sexually abused by their Chinese “husbands”. “We want [our daughter] to make a good salary, because our family is poor,” one Cambodian mother said. “But I felt sorry for my daughter when I realised what she was going through. I want her to return.”


Cambodia is not the only country that these traffickers take women from either. 19-year-old Cut Thi Mi left her home in Nghe An, Vietnam last April to pursue a factory job in the south that she had heard about from a local resident. Months later, Mi called her father and reported that she had been drugged and pawned off to a Chinese man in the countryside. Mi’s father notified the police, but they haven’t been able to find her.

Four years earlier, Mi’s sister-in-law Moong Thi Duc left their village for a “job” and was also married off to a Chinese man. A few villages over, three girls are still missing after they left for “work” and were trafficked to China in 2003.

And the list goes on.

Many of the women trafficked out of Vietnam and Cambodia end up in China. China is a hotspot for trafficking due to its massive gender imbalance--which threatens to leave 30 million men without mates by 2020. China can thank the One-Child Policy for that.


The One-Child Policy, coupled with a cultural preference for boys, has caused massive gendercide in China as families abort or abandon their girls so they can keep their boys. 34 years of this has resulted in the current gender ratio of 118 boys for every 100 girls in China. When those “surplus” boys reach marriageable age, there are simply not enough girls to go around. So what do they do? They order brides from neighboring countries.

Those brides are the unsuspecting Sochoeuns and Mi’s who think they are going to work in factories, but then get married off to Chinese men.

A few days ago,  Mid-Day released a story about seven Chinese men who had been deserted by their mail-order brides. Hu Peng, one of the men who lost his new wife, talked about getting her online from Vietnam--just as if he had ordered a kitchen appliance. “Getting a woman from Vietnam is popular around here. The women are considered faithful, kind, considerate and good housekeepers.” he said. “I found [my wife] through an agency and I thought she was lovely.”

At first, Peng’s lovely new wife was everything he wanted in a spouse. “For a couple of days everything was blissful.” Peng said. “I went out to work and I left her at home, stitching, cleaning, making the evening meal. It was just as I expected things to be.” Unfortunately for Peng, his online purchase ran away a few days after their wedding.

Peng cited the One-Child Policy as a direct contributor to the foreign bride market.  “It is hard to find a Chinese woman” Peng said, “the strict one-child birth policy means that most Chinese families only want a son.”

China’s trafficking situation is bleak. The annual U.S Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) ranks countries’ efforts to combat trafficking on a three tier scale, with tier one being the most comprehensive efforts and tier three being the least. China is a tier three country.  

According to the 2013 TIP, China’s skewed sex ratio caused by the One-Child Policy “serves as a key source of demand for the trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution.” Often, like in Sochoeun’s case, the women are abused by their new husbands and put to hard work.

Trafficking constantly happens. Just last week, two Vietnamese women were arrested for trafficking girls and selling them as wives to Chinese men. Similarly, on May 5th, two Chinese men and a Cambodian woman were arrested and charged with planning to traffic seven young girls to China as brides.

The trafficking system is complex and evil, but we can use prayer to penetrate that darkness. As we pray for these trafficked women,  we should also remember to pray for the traffickers who steal them and the men who purchase them. Everyone involved in trafficking is broken in some way, and they will ultimately have to pay for their actions. God does not let these crimes go unnoticed, and we can count on Him to bring justice and restoration.

“The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others. Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set. The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds.

- Psalm 9: 15-16

by Emilie, All Girls Allowed

All Girls Allowed ( was founded in 2010 with a mission to display the love of Jesus by restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China and revealing the injustice of the One-Child Policy.  “In Jesus’ Name, Simply Love Her.”

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IMAGE: Schweitz Finance


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