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Mercenary marriages cause turmoil in C China

Updated: 2011-09-02 22:46


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Cruel irony

As Ma planned to flee back to Vietnam, she tried to persuade Yang to come with her.

Yang refused to go. She could not leave her daughter.

"My husband treats me very well, and I don't want to leave the family," Yang says, in her now fluent Chinese.

But Yang, originally brought to China against her will, will soon be deported to Vietnam -- against her will. Authorities say no exceptions will be made.

Police suspect at least nine women came from Vietnam and formed families in Shuangfeng county illegally, said Liu Daoguang, a senior official with the county's public security bureau.

Once their identities are confirmed, they will be deported to their home country, as their stay in China is illegal, Liu said.

"My family might be ruined," Yang said, trembling with a cup of tea in her hand.

Her husband, Hu Xinfa, said he was in agony, too, as he did not want to lose his wife, and his daughter could not afford to lose her mother.

He claims he did not know Yang was brought to China against her will, but believed the traffickers whom he paid were in fact her relatives, and he says he was shocked when Yang told him the truth, once she learned to speak the language sufficiently.

According to the law, the crime of purchasing a wife can mean a three-year prison sentence or longer, depending on whether it is also categorized as detainment with sexual assault.

But a Changsha-based lawyer, who requested only to be identified by his surname Zeng, says it is unlikely Hu will be prosecuted, and men in this situation almost never face legal repercussions because it is difficult to prove, and also because authorities generally sympathize with the men.

Gender gap

Experts say the widening gender gap in China is making it increasingly difficult for rural men to get married, and has subsequently created the demand for mercenary marriages and the traffickers to supply them.

China's sex ratio at birth was 118.06 males for every 100 females in 2010, higher than demographic norm of 103 to 105 boys per 100 girls, according to a latest census last year.

As an increasing number of urban bachelors seek rural girls, the impoverished rural population is left with less choice for marriage, said Zhai Zhenwu, a sociologist at Renmin University of China, according to an August report of the People's Daily.

Zhai warns that millions of Chinese men of marrying age might not be able to get married by 2020 due to the gender imbalance, and adds that it is a trend that will threaten social stability.

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