Monday April 22, 2019
Home Lead Story “Chines...

“Chinese Human Traffickers Operating Illegal Matchmaking in Pakistan”, Says Pakistan Media

The revelation prompted the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to respond Saturday, saying the businesses are strictly prohibited under Chinese law

0
//
illegal matchmaking
FILE - A young Pakistani girl who escaped a forced marriage speaks to a reporter in the country's northwest. VOA

Pakistani media are reporting that Chinese human traffickers are operating illegal matchmaking centers in Pakistan, where they allegedly trap women from economically burdened families in fake marriages before transporting them and forcing them into prostitution or even selling their organs in China.

The revelation prompted the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to respond Saturday, saying the businesses are strictly prohibited under Chinese law and vowing to crackdown in cooperation with Pakistani authorities on the illegal practice of profiting through cross-border matchmaking.

The number of Chinese visiting neighboring Pakistan has dramatically increased since the launch of the bilateral multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) five years ago. The flagship pilot project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has brought an unprecedented $19 billion in much-need Chinese investment to Pakistan.

News reports about phony marriages between Chinese men and Pakistani women regularly appear in local media, prompting lawmakers to debate the issue and demand that officials look into the unlawful practice.

TV report

The Chinese Embassy’s reaction apparently came a day after a top private Pakistani television station aired images Friday of several Chinese men with six local women in different rooms, including two teenage girls, at an illegal matchmaking center in the eastern city of Lahore.

illegal matchmaking
FILE – A Pakistani cyclist passes in front of a wedding hall in Peshawar. VOA

The ARY News channel crew showed up unannounced at the facility along with local police and interviewed the foreigners, their local facilitators and the alleged Pakistani wives of the Chinese men. When asked, the station said, members of the alleged gang of Chinese human traffickers failed to produce local marriage certificates or documents showing the men had converted to Islam before marrying Pakistani Muslim women, which is mandatory under local laws.

The Pakistani victims explained that in return for their marrying Chinese men, their families would get about $300 per month and a Chinese visa for male family members. The local facilitators told the TV channel they would lure families into an agreement by saying their would-be Chinese son-in-law was seeking Pakistani citizenship so he could invest in the country as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

“We remind both Chinese and Pakistani citizens to remain vigilant and not to be cheated. … We hope that the public does not believe in misleading information and works together to safeguard China-Pakistan friendship,” the Chinese Embassy said in its statement.

It noted that both countries are firmly opposed to human trafficking and sales of human organs and rejected as “misleading and groundless” reports about sales of human organs in China.

Cooperation on crackdown

“China is cooperating with Pakistani law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal matchmaking centers,” the embassy said, adding that both Chinese and Pakistani youths were victims of the illegal agents.

illegal matchmaking
FILE – Pakistani brides attend a mass marriage ceremony in Karachi. VOA

While briefing Pakistani lawmakers at one of the recent meetings, senior government officials reportedly said Islamabad was in close contact with Beijing about fake marriages and action was being taken to counter the practice. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Tariq Sardar, was quoted as telling the meeting that “some private marriage bureaus were involved in these marriages” and “most of the complaints were being received from Lahore as well as the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.”

Pakistan and China are extremely sensitive to any critical reporting on their relationship. Officials on both sides also discourage skepticism and criticism of the CPEC as well as BRI investments as Western propaganda. Beijing and China defend the CPEC as a highly productive initiative, saying it has created tens of thousands of local jobs and resolved a decade-long crippling power crisis in Pakistan.

ALSO READ: White House Candidate Booker Calls for Unity, Cooperation

The United States contends China’s BRI projects are of dubious economic value and contain national security elements favoring Beijing. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was trying to warn countries about the risks. (VOA)

Next Story

A Data Project To Predict Human Trafficking Before It Occurs By Corporate Giants

Along with IBM and Western Union, participants include Europol, Europe's law enforcement agency is also included

0
Human Trafficking
People protesting against human trafficking and slavery raise their fists during a demonstration in Mexico City. VOA

Computer giant IBM Corp., financial services company Western Union
Co. and European police launched a project Thursday to share financial data that they said may one day be able to predict human trafficking before it occurs.

The shared data hub will collect information on money moving around the world and compare it with known ways that traffickers move their illicit gains, highlighting red flags signaling potential trafficking, organizers said.

“We will build and aggregate that material, using IBM tools, into an understanding of hot spots and routes and trends,” said Neil Giles, a director at global anti-slavery group Stop the Traffik, which is participating in the project.

Human Trafficking
Ethnic Uighur Muslim boy stands inside a police van in Khlong Hoi Khong of southern Songkhla province, Thailand. He was in a group of 200 people rescued from a human trafficking camp. VOA

Data collection, digital tools and modern technology are the latest weapons in the fight against human trafficking, estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global business, according to the International Labor Organization.

The U.N. has set a goal of 2030 for ending forced labor and modern slavery worldwide, with more than 40 million people estimated to be enslaved around the world.

Certain patterns and suspicious activity might trigger a block of a transaction or an investigation into possible forced labor or sex slavery, organizers said.

The project will utilize IBM’s internet cloud services as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning to compare data and to spot specific trafficking terms, said Sophia Tu, director of IBM Corporate Citizenship.

Human Trafficking
The project will utilize IBM’s internet cloud services

With a large volume of high-quality data, the hub one day may predict trafficking before it happens, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“You can’t do it today because we’re in the process of building out that amount of data and those capabilities, but it’s in the road map for what we want to do,” she said.

While law enforcement is teaming up with banks and data specialists to chase trafficking, experts have cautioned that it can be a cat-and-mouse game in which traffickers quickly move on to new tactics to elude capture.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

Also, less than 1 percent of the estimated $1.5 trillion-plus laundered by criminals worldwide each year through the financial system is frozen or confiscated, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

Along with IBM and Western Union, participants include Europol, Europe’s law enforcement agency; telecommunications giant Liberty Global; and British banks Barclays and Lloyds, organizers said. (VOA)