The list of 629 girls and women was obtained by AP and was compiled by Pakistani investigators looking into sex trafficking. It is believed that the girls and women were sold to Chinese men by their families.
“No one is doing anything to help these girls,” an unidentified official involved in the investigation told AP. “The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it.”
According to AP, Pakistani investigators first began looking into the trafficking case in June. However, Pakistani government officials halted much of the investigation in an effort to maintain the country’s positive ties with China, AP reported.
In October, officials in Faisalabad, the third-most populous city in Pakistan, acquitted 31 Chinese nationals who had been charged through the trafficking probe. Several women who were interviewed by police did not testify because “they were either threatened or bribed into silence according to a court official and a police investigator familiar with the case,” the AP report explains.
In an effort to stop the trafficking investigation from continuing, the Pakistani government even put “immense pressure” on officials from the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), activist Saleem Iqbal told AP.
“Some [FIA officials] were even transferred,” Iqbal added. “When we talk to Pakistani rulers, they don’t pay any attention.”
In addition, Pakistani media outlets have reportedly been pressured by court officials to not report on the investigation.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that it had no knowledge of the list obtained by AP.
“The two governments of China and Pakistan support the formation of happy families between their people on a voluntary basis in keeping with laws and regulations, while at the same time having zero tolerance for and resolutely fighting against any person engaging in illegal cross-border marriage behavior,” the ministry wrote in a faxed statement sent Monday to AP’s Beijing bureau.
An AP investigation earlier this year found that members of Pakistan’s Christian minority face the highest risk of being trafficked as brides to China in exchange for money, because their community is among the poorest in the Muslim-majority country.