AUTHORITIES in Pakistan arrested 12 suspected members of prostitution ring taking young Pakistani women to China, part of a growing human trafficking problem often based on fake marriages, officials said on Monday (6).
Those arrested included eight Chinese nationals and four Pakistanis, said Jameel Ahmad, a top official at Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which deals with human trafficking.
“We busted the gang after the FIA received information about increasing smuggling of Pakistani woman to China where they are thrown into prostitution,” Ahmad said.
He said several gangs were believed to be operating, mainly targeting members of Pakistan’s Christian minority.
Tens of thousands of young women from Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam marry Chinese men each year, plugging a gender gap incubated by Beijing’s three-decade-long one-child policy.
Last month a Pakistani news channel spotlighted growing concerns about the issue in Pakistan, claiming it had gained entry to a matchmaking centre in Lahore where poor families would marry their daughters off to Chinese nationals in exchange for money and a visa.
“China is cooperating with Pakistani law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal matchmaking centres. We remind both Chinese and Pakistani citizens to remain vigilant and not be cheated,” the Chinese embassy in Islamabad said.
Ahmad said a police raid he led on a wedding ceremony last week the eastern city of Faisalabad was a major breakthrough in the investigation.
He said a man and a woman from China and a fake priest were arrested at the ceremony where a Christian girl was to be married.
“The gang members confessed that they have sent at least 36 Pakistani girls to China where they are being used for prostitution,” he said. The majority were Christians from different districts in eastern Punjab province, he said.