China

Burmese girls 'sold as brides' in rural China

The county of Taipusi in China's northern Inner Mongolia region, 01 June 2007 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The gang were arrested in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China

Chinese police have arrested a gang accused of selling a group of women as wives in rural China, state media says.

Among the 14 victims were five children from Myanmar, who have now been returned, Xinhua news agency reported.

The women were lured by the prospect of holidays or jobs and then sold for up to 50,000 yuan (£5,200).

China has more men than women as a result of the one-child policy. Rural Chinese struggle to find wives, and bride-trafficking is big business.

Police caught the gang after one of the women alerted an officer while travelling on a train in August.

She turned to the policeman for help, according to Xinhua, saying she had been abducted in Myanmar (also known as Burma) and forced to travel to China.

Officers reportedly caught the abductor after he tried to drag the woman away.

Following a three-month investigation, police arrested another 30 suspects allegedly involved in the people smuggling operation.

Because of its one-child policy, China has a large gender imbalance because many families decide to abort or abandon baby girls.

In September, state media reported that police would crack down on websites selling all-male tours to South East Asia where travellers could meet "foreign brides", according to the Reuters news agency.

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