She Thought She’d Married a Rich Chinese Farmer. She Hadn’t.

The New York Times
Date: May 27, 2019
By Salman Masood and Amy Qin

Rabia Kanwal and Zhang Shuchen were married in Islamabad in January. Eight days after they went to his home in China, she left to return to Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Rabia Kanwal’s parents were sure her marriage to a wealthy Chinese Muslim she had just met would give her a comfortable future, far from the hardships of their lives in Pakistan. But she had a premonition.

“I was not excited,” said Ms. Kanwal, 22, who lives in a poor neighborhood in the city of Gujranwala, in the eastern province of Punjab. “I felt something bad was going to happen.”

Arranged marriages are common in Pakistan, but this one was unusual. The groom, who said he was a rich poultry farmer, met Ms. Kanwal’s family during a monthslong stay on a tourist visa. He had to use a Chinese-Urdu translation app to communicate with them, but over all, he made a favorable impression.

Ms. Kanwal went through with the wedding. But upon moving to China with her new husband in February, she said, she was disappointed by what she found: He was a poor farmer, not a wealthy one. Far worse, he was not a Muslim. Within days, with the help of the Pakistani Embassy, she was back home and pursuing a divorce.

Hers was a relatively happy ending, though. In recent weeks, Pakistan has been rocked by charges that at least 150 women were brought to China as brides under false pretenses — not only lied to, but in some cases forced into prostitution. Others said they were made to work in bars and clubs, an unacceptable practice in Pakistan’s conservative Muslim culture.

At the same time, Ms. Kanwal’s story is not uncommon in China.

China has one of the most heavily skewed gender ratios in the world, with 106.3 men for every 100 women as of 2017, according to the World Bank. That tilt is a product of nearly three decades of strict enforcement of China’s one-child policy and a preference for boys over girls — a combination that caused an untold number of forced abortions and female infanticides.

But the long-term human costs of this gender imbalance have only recently come into view — and they are having an impact far beyond China’s borders.    [FULL  STORY]

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