The investigation into fake marriages is expanding. Some Christian pastors are also involved by issuing wedding certificates. The Chinese embassy warns against sensationalism, but is forced to admit that it blocked scores of visa applications. At least 700 women have been caught up in human trafficking in the past year alone.
Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Two Pakistani women married off to unscrupulous Chinese men fled their husbands. Both are involved in running an illegal brothel in Lahore, disguised as a marriage agency. Both, and planned to sell their wives in China.
Their case is the latest chapter is a major problem involving Pakistani women, Christian and Muslim, sold as brides to Chinese husbands and then forced into prostitution and victims of organ trafficking.
The two women, Samina and Tasawur Bibi, come from Kot Momin, Punjab. They said they married two men whom they believed were Muslims, only to find out later that they were “neither Muslim nor honest".
Their story is not unusual. According to Pakistan’s Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) would-be Chinese husbands obtain fake religious certificates in order to convince Pakistani families to give away their daughters as brides.
Since it first came to light, the affair has grown, exposing a human trafficking racket between the two countries, which are linked by strong economic agreements.
Police sources report that, dozens of people have been arrested in recent weeks, including Christian clergymen working with criminals.
The Catholic Church has already spoken out in the past against the blight of fake marriages between Pakistani women and Chinese men.
Last week, the FIA detained two Chinese men and three Pakistani women waiting at Islamabad Airport to board a flight for China.
For their part, Chinese authorities have rejected claims that a criminal enterprise is responsible for the buying and selling of brides.
China’s embassy in Pakistan has accused Pakistani media of making up stories and blowing the affair out of proportion.
In a statement, China’s diplomatic mission said that "it is essential to avoid sensationalism" and "sensitive matters should be reported only on the basis of established facts."
Yet, the embassy later admitted that it had blocked at least 90 applications for a visa by Pakistani women.
Activists note that the criminal racket is favoured by the extremely poor economic conditions in which would-be brides live. For them, China appears to offer the promise of a better future.
Saleem Iqbal, a Christian human rights activist, said that at least 700 women, mostly Christians, have been involved in this business between Pakistan and China in the past year alone.