Millions of girls across Asia are being sold into prostitution, forced into child labour, and married against their will. Over two weeks the Herald and World Vision will tell their stories so you can make a difference.

Life for Yadanar was tough. It always had been, and chances were, it always would be.

Her father had tuberculosis and couldn't work; her mother had a mobile vegetable stall that barely brought in enough money to pay for the rent or the food for the family.

So when Yadanar's mother told her that she had met someone who could get the two of them a job in a shoe making factory in China, making more money than they could ever dream of in Yangon, Yadanar jumped at the chance.


The extra money would help keep her three younger sisters in school. It would pay for her father's medical treatment. She would be with her mother when she took the leap to migrate to a new country and a new job – all the auspices pointed to Yadanar taking the job.

Yadanar tried to escape the Chinese family that bought her and was caught and beaten. Photo / Mike Scott
Yadanar tried to escape the Chinese family that bought her and was caught and beaten. Photo / Mike Scott

But 17-year-old Yadanar was betrayed in the worst possible way.

When she and her mother arrived in China and met the broker who'd promised them the factory jobs, Yadanar's mother left her with the broker and Yadanar has never seen her since.

She cries whenever she talks about her mother and although she can't put it into words, she knows that, at best, her mother abandoned her and in the worst case scenario, her mother sold her.

The broker told Yadanar that her mother had taken the money and run but Yadanar is trying to believe that there was a misunderstanding or that her mother went to get help and fell victim to some misfortune.

Anything other than believe her mother would sell her to the highest bidder.

The one child policy in China has driven a great deal of the human trafficking in Myanmar – and in other countries in Asia.

The preference of Chinese couples to have boy children has meant that there is a desperate shortage of women for young men to marry – particularly men who live in rural areas - and so they have to look elsewhere.

Many Chinese families think nothing of paying a broker a couple of thousand dollars to get a fit young woman to marry their son and give them grandchildren and it's of no concern to them where that woman comes from and whether she has been duped into the marriage.

Yadanar, alone and terrified, was taken to the home of an elderly Chinese man.

The septuagenarian made no sexual demands on her; he was looking for a housekeeper. However, his son sexually assaulted Yadanar and so she ran away and tried to seek help from the local police.

It appears that many local police officers are in cahoots with the traffickers and so as Yadanar was trying to explain how she had come to be in China, the broker turned up at the station, paid a sum of money and took Yadanar back to the old man and his son.

The old man decided Yadanar was more trouble than she was worth and told the broker to get rid of her and to give him his money back.

The broker beat Yadanar for the trouble she had caused him and then, once the bruises had faded, he sold her to a family with a mentally disabled son who was looking for a wife. Yadanar begged the family to take her on as a maid.

She said she didn't want to be a wife and she didn't want to live in China but her pleas and tears were in vain. The parents of the man beat her and turned her over to her new husband.

Yadanar tried to escape on a number of occasions but she was caught each time and severely beaten. That didn't stop her trying, though.

After her failed attempts at running away, she opted for a different strategy and pretended that she was resigned to her fate. She tried to be a good wife and a good daughter-in-law, and eventually the family relaxed their vigilance enough to let her go outside of the family compound and spend some time around the village.

It was there that Yadanar met a woman who sympathised with her plight and took her to the police station to try to find someone there who would help her.

It was touch and go. The broker turned up when he found out she had escaped once again and the parents of the Chinese boy also tried to bribe the police to give Yadanar back to them. However, this time, Yadanar had found an honest cop and after a few months in a detention centre, while her story and her identity were investigated, Yadanar and another woman from Myanmar were sent back to their homes.

Yadanar lives with her grandparents now and her father and sisters live with them too.

There has been no word from her mother and Yadanar doubts whether she'll ever see her again.

World Vision has given her a small grant to set up a grocery stall but she's struggling to make a living.

She desperately wants to keep her little sisters in school and she's worried about how she'll pay for her father's medications.

But for all that, she isn't complaining. She's glad to be home. She knows that life could be a whole lot worse.

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