China’s brutal one-child policy means that men far outnumber women in China. Men can’t find brides, and that leaves the door open for human-trafficking.
Adam Minter reports that some men in China are willing (and able) to pay upwards of $64,000 to woo a woman into marriage. For those that can’t that, they can turn to marriage brokers. Unfortunately, many of these marriage brokers are human traffickers.
Bride trafficking is one such response, and it has a long history in China. In recent years, however, the limited data on the phenomenon suggests that the traffickers are increasingly focused on women from outside of China, including North Korea. According to the Diplomat, around 90 percent of North Korean defectors are blackmailed into the sex industry and forced marriages (the threatened alternative — a return to North Korea — is unthinkable). Women from the remote and impoverished minority regions of Vietnam are targets, as well. Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security reports that more than 5800 women have been trafficked out of the country in recent years, the majority of them having gone to China.
Two women who’ve studied this, Valerie Hudson, a professor at Texas A&M and Andrea den Boer, a lecturer at the University of Kent in the U.K., say that this is only one tragic outcome of the one-child policy.
A surplus of 40-50 million bachelors throughout the mid- to late 21st century will have a significant effect on China’s stability and development as a nation. Male criminal behavior drops significantly upon marriage, and the presence of significant numbers of unmarriageable men is potentially destabilizing to societies. In the case of China, the fact that a sizeable percentage of young adult males will not be making that transition will have negative social repercussions, including increased crime, violent crime, crimes against women, vice, substance abuse and the formation of gangs that are involved in all of these antisocial behaviors.