Trafficking in disguise: China, Korea marriage racket bustedThe Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police on Friday made public three persons from Chheru International Pvt Ltd, a marriage bureau that lures young girls into “paper marriages”
Pasang Sherpa, Bipul Nagarkoti and a Korean National—Park Hue Cheung—were running the bureau registered nine months ago, pairing girls as young as 17 with men twice their age. Speaking at a press conference, CIB Director Hemanta Malla Thakuri said the arrest was just the tip of the iceberg.
“The magnitude at which this organised crime is being carried out is still being investigated. It is hard to point out the numbers but we can tell it is huge,” said Malla.
Media reports show that international marriage in South Korea has skyrocketed in recent years. Some 238,000 “foreign-bride cases” were registered in the country from 2006-2012.
China Daily, in a report in September, stated that for some single men in rural China, the cost of marrying a Chinese woman was so high that marriage to a non-native wife was more viable, which has led to an increase in many of them opting for ‘foreign brides’.
Initial investigations show that there are at least 83 such bureaus operating in Nepal. All marriages are registered at district offices in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Malla said the registration process seemed “fishy”, and that the CIB was working with the district offices to dig out the details. “I was told that the papers were just a formality,” says Sangita Sharma, a 19-year-old who escaped from Harbin province, China, last month.
“They said that once I reached in China, I would be working in a company and in a few months would be able to take my whole family there. But the day I reached the house of the man I was supposedly married to, he started abusing me, saying ‘I paid money to bring you here, now you have to bear me children’”.
Sharma reached China on February 3, along with six others, who are now scattered across the province.
Unable to put up with the abuse, she managed to escape through a window and walked for three hours, before she came across the police, who helped her.
On February 19, she returned home. At the Tribhuvan International Airport, agents from Chheru picked her up, seizing her passport and citizenship card. “They told me—if anyone asks you why you are back tell them it’s because of paper issues.”
On Monday, the CIB raided the bureau—arresting the three—and rescuing five girls. They also got a tip off about Sharma and rescued her; the agents had kept her in a separate house.
Meanwhile, the rest of the girls—all married on paper—are now sheltered in various rehabilitation centres.
According to SP Kiran Bajracharya, they have been able to map a trend.
Girls—preferably with ‘Mongolian features’—are brought to bureaus by “agents”, where they are married to either a Chinese or Korean man. Many a time, pictures of these girls are then sent to these men for them to make a choice.
The men pay the company anywhere between Rs 1.5 million to Rs 2.50 million. After the marriage, the man leaves the country and the girls undergo “preparatory language classes” before moving to either China or Korea.
“Most of the girls don’t even know the name of their husbands. They are brainwashed,” said Bajracharya. “They have no idea what they are walking into.”