03/01/2019, 17.56
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Pakistani Church speaks out against the trafficking of women used as prostitutes by Chinese husbands

by Kamran Chaudhry

Approximately 700 mixed marriages have been celebrated since 2017. In Pakistan, many Chinese men work in companies involved in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of the flagship projects of China’s New Silk Road. The story of Muqadas Saddique, drugged and forced to marry a Chinese alcoholic, is one example.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of Pakistan is speaking out against mixed marriages between Pakistani women and Chinese husbands, which have increased recently because of the presence of many Chinese companies in Pakistan.

Fr Inayat Bernard, rector at Lahore’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, warns against marrying Chinese men, which can be harmful to Christian families, especially wives.

“Do not sell your daughters for greed or going abroad,” he tells parents. “The affected girls are used for prostitution.”

Marriages between Chinese men and local women are growing in developing countries in Asia. In some cases it is actual trafficking in women, who are used as sex slaves and sold without their knowledge.

According to Fr Bernard, this problem stems from the fact that "the Chinese need more women due to one-child policy". In addition, “some so-called pastors officiate such weddings. We demand that the government arrest pastors involved in this crime.”

Several Christian families have filed complaints against the trafficking of women in Lahore with the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan.

Several Chinese companies operate in Pakistan to develop the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a key component of Beijing’s New Silk Road plan. Most of the workers employed by these companies are from China.

Since November 2017, some 700 mixed marriages have been celebrated. One of the brides is 19-year-old Muqadas Saddique (pictured with her brother), who last month married Ma Shitao in Islamabad.

"Several women in our neighbourhood suggested I get married,” she told AsiaNews. “I went to meet the groom with my family, but I did not know that they had arranged the wedding for that same day. They had prepared everything with their pastor. They drugged our tea, so we consented to everything that was asked of us."

The young bride went home the next day. "I had consented to the marriage to give a better future to my three sisters. But Shitao is an alcoholic. He and other women forced me sign (the marriage papers). I want to get out of this swamp. My husband is blackmailing me."

Fr Bernard is incensed that "Pakistani media are knowingly ignoring such stories. The government does not want any criticism that could jeopardise its main project with its old friend (China). However, the socio-cultural repercussions are now evident in society. The Chinese are abusing our trust and our [preferential] visa policy. Poor families are the easiest targets."

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