ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested at least eight Chinese nationals for luring young Pakistani girls into fake marriages and then forcing them into prostitution in China, authorities confirmed to AFP Tuesday.
The FIA said four Pakistanis who facilitated fake marriages have also been arrested. A spokesman for the FIA said more detentions were expected as investigation continues. Those arrested included eight Chinese nationals and four Pakistanis, said Jameel Ahmad, a top official at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which deals with human trafficking. “We busted the gang after receiving information about increasing smuggling of Pakistani women to China where they are thrown into prostitution,” Ahmad told Reuters. He said several gangs were believed to be operating, mainly targeting members of Pakistan’s Christian minority.
The arrests came a week after Human Rights Watch said Pakistan should be alarmed by recent reports of trafficking of women and girls to China. It said the allegations were disturbingly similar to the pattern of trafficking of “brides” to China from at least five other Asian countries. The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad has alsoraised alarm over illegal, cross-border matchmaking services that are often a front for human trafficking.
Last month the embassy said China is cooperating with the Pakistani law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal matchmaking. It denied reports that the women are being trafficked for sale of their organs as “misleading and groundless”. Ahmad said a police raid he led on a wedding ceremony last week in 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 had 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.
“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.
A report revealed that middlemen trapped Pakistani girls by promising them Rs40,000 monthly besides mobile phones and Chinese visas.
A TV channel also aired images of several Chinese men with Pakistani women, including two teenage girls, at an illegal matchmaking center in Lahore. Thousands of Chinese are now living in Pakistan since the launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPEC) project in 2015. Many of them have even bought houses and cars.
Some Chinese men have ulterior motives behind marrying Pakistani girls, as they take them to China after marriage and force them into prostitution and even sell their organs. 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.
Banners for weddings: Roadside banners and posters can also been seen in Youhanabad — the largest Christian locality – in Lahore, inviting families to marry their girls with Chinese. The banners read: “Long live Pak-China friendship! Attention honorable Christians. Proposals of deserving, poor and good families are urgently required for China. Chinese family will bear all expenses. Education is not a problem.”
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