State Department Trafficking Report Blames China’s “Previous” One Child Policy

Last week, the United States Department of State issued its annual Trafficking in Persons (“TIP”) report, ranking China on the Tier 2 Watch List because it is a “source, destination and transit country” for trafficked persons, and because the Chinese government, “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking . . .”  On one hand,  the TIP report heavily implicates China’s One Child Policy in connection with China’s rampant sexual slavery problem:

“The Chinese government’s birth limitation policy and a cultural preference for sons create a skewed sex ratio of 117 boys to 100 girls in China, which may serve to increase the demand for prostitution and for foreign women as brides for Chinese men – both of which may be procured by forced or coercion.  Women and girls are recruited through marriage brokers and transported to China, where some are subjected to forced prostitution or forced labor.”

On the other hand, the TIP Report mistakenly describes the One Child Policy as a thing of the past.  Referencing a 2014 modification of the Policy, under which the Chinese government allowed couples with one parent who is an only child to have a second child, the Report states:

Academics noted the gender imbalance, due to the previous one child policy, could contribute to crimes of human trafficking in China.  The government’s modification of the birth limitation policy may affect future demands for prostitution and for foreign women as brides for Chinese men.

Long a vocal critic of China’s One Child Policy, Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, stated:  “There is nothing ‘previous’ about the One Child Policy, which is a present, terrifying reality to the women and families of China.  The fact that the Chinese government tweaked the One Child Policy in 2014 merely allows a relatively small number of additional families to have a second child.  This will not end forced abortion or gendercide in China.  The selective abortion and abandonment of baby girls is most prevalent in the countryside, where couples already can have a second child if the first child is a girl.

“Further, the Report’s statement that this minor modification ‘may affect future demands for prostitution and for foreign women as brides for Chinese men’ is misleading.  Even if the most recent modification were significantly to improve gender ratios at birth – which it will not — the impact on sexual slavery would not be felt for decades to come.  What about all the women and girls who are being trafficked now?  The TIP Report does not cite any effective new initiatives by the CCP to help current victims of sexual slavery.”

The Report describes the far reach of sex trafficking in China:  “Women and children from neighboring Asian countries, including Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as well as from Africa and the Americas, are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in China.”

The Report also recommends that the Chinese government “investigate, prosecute, and impose prison sentences on government officials who facilitate or are complicit in trafficking.”  Littlejohn added:  “Why does the Chinese government turn a blind eye to officials who are complicit with human trafficking and sexual slavery?  Do they believe that sexual slavery is necessary because of the extreme gender imbalance they have created through the One Child Policy?  This is an abandonment of women who are trafficked as sex slaves in China.”

The Report also raises concerns about the fact that “Chinese authorities continued to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees by treating them as illegal economic migrants – despite reports that many North Korean female refugees in China were trafficking victims . . . [these repatriated refugees] may face severe punishment, even death.”

“My heart breaks for the young women and girls who escape the violent brutality of North Korea by slipping across the Chinese border, only to find themselves snapped up in the sex slave trade.” Littlejohn continued.  “These women and girls are utterly helpless.  They can be beaten, raped and sold as prostitutes or forced brides, but there is nothing they can do about it.  If they are able to escape from their captors and report their mistreatment to the Chinese authorities, they may be repatriated to North Korea, where they may be accused of treason, sent to hell-hole forced labor camps, and possibly executed.

“China was listed as a Tier 3 nation in 2013 – a status it shared with Iran, Sudan and North Korea.  The Chinese government has not significantly improved its record since that time.  China should return to Tier 3 status immediately.

“Women’s Rights Without Frontiers’ ‘Save a Girl’ campaign has undercover fieldworkers on the ground in China, saving girls from gendercide empowering women to keep their daughters.  This is the most effective way to combat son preference and restore gender ratios in China.”

Learn more about WRWF’s “Save a Girl” campaign:

Read the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2015:

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