Chinese men deserted by their foreign-born wives may be entitled to a “replacement.” According to a report in the Shanghai Daily there have been a rash of cases of Chinese men marrying women from southeast Asia who flee their husbands shortly after their honeymoons. In response Chinese marriage brokers have come up with a new deal – lose your spouse, get another. “We ensure you that the woman is a virgin,” one brokerage promised, “and if she runs away we’ll give you another one for free in a year.” The match-makers have been driven to this by necessity; bachelors pay around $32,000 for a wife, which is seven times the per capita income in the PRC. Prospective husbands are unlikely to risk this kind of cash on a runaway bride without some kind of guarantee. Furthermore this type of human trafficking is illegal and the men have no lawful recourse once their imported wives flee.
High bride prices are mostly the result of scarcity. Women are in increasingly short supply in China, a result of the communist “One-child policy” that has led to thousands if not millions of gender-selective abortions of baby girls. But competing marriage brokers may be he ones behind the vanishing wives. Some suspect that cagey entrepreneurs are luring the women away for another match, perhaps with promises of getting a portion of the revenues when they are resold. But given the nature of human trafficking it is unlikely that they would ever collect. It is also possible that they wind up in forced prostitution where the “virgins only” guarantee does not apply. The situation in China is a grim intersection of sex, money and slavery driven by an inhumane birth control policy and rampant human greed. Unfortunately it shows no sign of stopping.