Trafficked Women in Rural Areas of China (I)

Scene from the movie "Blind Mountain": Bai Xuemei(right), sold as a bride to the villager, her "husband" (left)
Scene from the movie "Blind Mountain": Bai Xuemei(right), sold as a bride to the villager, her "husband" (left) (photo:
By CCD contributor: Li DaonanNovember 29th, 2016

Editor's note: The Bible teaches us that we shall weep with the sad people and smile with the happy people. Christians live in a real society which is composed of real people. We shall feel their joy and sorrows with our heart. Let's reach out our helping hands to them.

There's a tradition of favoring boys over girls in my village. The villagers would like to sacrifice everything to have a male heir. The more sons a family has, the happier the whole family would be.

In the villagers' opinion, it is definitely lucky if a family has five sons. On the contrary, if a family only has daughters, villagers will think that the family has done something evil in the last generation. A family without a son would be called No Future Generation. The title is absolutely a kind of shame.

Nowadays urbanization has been underway in China's rural areas. However, on some important occasions, a woman still cannot have dinner on the table with male family members.

Later on, the national policy of family planning came out. The dream of giving birth to a boy was broken up because they had to accept the truth if their only child is a daughter.

It gradually became natural that the newly-born girls were abandoned or drowned in the river. It is common that people find baby girls in the countryside.

When there are much more boys than girls, it is hard for every single man to get married. Without a wife, men couldn't give birth to sons. Villagers are worried that they would become the family of No Future Generation.

However, they couldn't just grab a girl in local areas. Then the business of trafficking women started to thrive.

In fact, trafficking women are really common in China's history. The story I am going to tell is how this kind of phenomenon evolved and disappeared in my hometown.

The marriage with the trafficked women is usually based on means of deceiving or violence. Some women from other areas would be decoyed and sold to single men in my village with different prices. The poor women would be beaten until their body was black and blue.

Some native parents would exchange their daughters for the wives of their sons. The parents kept crying and begging their daughters to agree. Their parents have badly hurt the self-esteem and independence of the daughter. However, these girls may never resist and resigned themselves to their fate.

The traffickers would lead a group of women across the streets like peddlers. Traffickers promised that they would find jobs and husbands for these women in Jiangsu province. They said that Jiangsu was a good place where rice and flour were more than enough.

When I was four years old, a trafficker brought five girls to our village. These girls would be sold on the road in the east of our village. The traffickers were so rampant that they hawked loudly. Many villagers were attracted to them. Those single men with disability, disease, or mental problems would buy a wife. 

The mother of the young man with mental problems was going to buy a girl with nine hundred yuan. The young man used to play out with his elder brother. His brother accidentally fell into the river. The young man was so foolish that he didn't reach out his hands to help his brother. He was afraid of his parents' scolding so he didn't tell his parents. At last, he told the truth, but everything was too late.

This silly young man became famous because of the accident. Nobody was willing to marry him. The girl was also reluctant to marry him. The trafficker who received the money dragged her hair along the road of the village. He beat her and the whole village was filled with the cry of the girl. There were about five hundred meters between the two ends of the village. The girl was dragged like an animal. When she reached the home of the silly young man, the girl was already schizophrenic.

The schizophrenic girl did nothing every day except following her husband. The mother of the silly young man sold the girl to another old single man of our village. However, the single man found that the girl was crazy. He returned the girl to the mother of the silly young man before paying her.

None of other women dared to resist the violence. Another girl with her was sold to my cousin and became his new wife. The original wife of my cousin died at a young age and he didn't have a son. He was anxious to marry a new wife.

However, his new wife didn't have any sign of pregnancy. The mother of my cousin said that it would be better to feed a pig than feed my cousin's wife.  She said that a pig would have many baby pigs while my cousin's wife couldn't have any baby.

Once upon a time my cousin's wife fled to the police station of our town. However, the police didn't take any kind of action. She felt hopeless and sold her watch to a man in the police station at a low price. She bought a train ticket and left for somewhere else.

At that time many daughters-in-law of our village were from remote areas. Many of them were from Sichuan Province. We all called them Sichuan Manzi (The title of Manzi shows contempt, which means illiteracy).

My neighbor's wife was bought and abused by her mother-in-law. My aunt was also bought. From the early 1980s to the 1990s buying a wife was really common. The last trafficked girl in our village was my uncle's wife. My uncle believed in Jesus.

My grandparents had seven children. My uncle was the youngest. When my uncle got married, my grandparents were too old to organize a wedding. So they bought a wife for my uncle.

However, my uncle had domestic violence and often beat my aunt. My uncle believed in Jesus. When I was in primary school, my cousin showed me a Bible. I was impressed by the vertical version and the thickness of the Bible. There were many bookmarks in the Bible. Although my uncle was illiterate, he made marks every time he listened to the gospel.

My cousin told me that as long as their family believed in Jesus they would still be a family in the heaven. This was their faith. I believed his words. However, I didn't believe in Jesus at that time.

Chinese people have a tradition of worshipping power, especially the power that can benefit them. In the countryside, the officials of the village represent power. The accountant of our village had a bad reputation. He had four sons. His two sons were well-known thieves in our village. One of his sons was lame and couldn't find a wife.

My aunt went back to her parents once upon a time. When she came back, she brought a beautiful girl with two braids. My aunt said that it was her distant relative. She wanted to find a husband for the wife.

It was in 1994 and I was in the fifth grade. The girl didn't think that her husband was disabled. Although the lame son of the accountant can take care of himself, such a beautiful girl wouldn't be willing to marry him.

My uncle didn't receive money from the accountant. He just wanted to become the relative of the accountant.

The girl was forced to live with the disabled son. I could hear the girl's piercing cry almost every day. Sometimes I would hear the sound of pulling the door. She wanted to escape. I could imagine her holding scissors and sleeping with her clothes on every day.

Accounting to my uncle, the accountant knew that the girl didn't have sex with his son. On a snowy winter night, the accountant asked his lame son to look after the farmland, The accountant raped the girl in his son's room. Then the accountant was detained in the police station for a couple of days. When he was back home, he was still the accountant of the village. The family of the accountant suspected that my uncle hid the girl so they supervise our family for several nights.

The trafficked women have become less and less since then. The police station began to work. Trafficked women would be rescued by the police station and traffickers would be sent to the prison.

However, some old and ugly women would be sold in my village. They were brought to the village by traffickers but their prices were cheap. After they got married, they would keep sending money to their family or children. Sometimes they would also leave with all the money of their husbands.

Translated By: Emma Ma

related articles