BEIJING, CHINA - Women and children in China face a growing threat of being trafficked and sold into marriage or sex work, as labour migration and a widening gender imbalance put them at risk, an international aid group said on Wednesday.
Wedgwood said it also meant many poor, rural families were reluctant to register children born outside of the plan, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking or exploitation by local officials who encourage them to hand over their babies in return for being excused a fine.
About 119 boys are born in China for every 100 girls, an imbalance that has grown since Beijing introduced a one-child policy more than 25 years ago that has bolstered a traditional preference for boys, resulting in abortions of female foetuses and abandonment of baby girls.
"Lack of girls for marriage in the eastern and rural areas is fuelling a demand for girl babies to be raised as future brides for better-off farmers' sons," Kate Wedgwood, China country director for Save the Children, told the Foreign Correspondents' Club.
The strict family-planning policy means China will be home to 30 million more men of marriageable age than women by 2020, state media has reported.
Migration for employment was also leaving many vulnerable to traffickers, both rural workers who move across the country to huge urban centres, and children who are left behind, often without adequate care...
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