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Teenage Brides Trafficked to China Reveal Ordeal: ‘Ma, I’ve Been Sold’

Mr. Gao’s mother, who lived with them, fretted that Nyo was too thin to bear children. She made her foreign daughter-in-law fortifying rice porridge, thick wheat noodles and steamed buns.

“She would always say, ‘chi, chi,’” Nyo said, using the Mandarin word for “eat.”

With her phone, Nyo secretly filmed what she could to determine her whereabouts: a drive on the back of Mr. Gao’s scooter, the license plate of the family car, the entrance to their two-story house. She geotagged each video and photo.

The place was Xiangcheng County in Henan Province. Located on China’s central plains, Henan is one of the country’s most populous provinces, with about 100 million people, double Myanmar’s population.

In the 2005 national census, Henan reported one of the widest gender disparities in China, with 142 boys born for every 100 girls. (Some baby girls were not reported to the authorities, so the real disparity is likely to be lower, and China’s population control measures have now been relaxed.)

The area around Xiangcheng has a history of importing trafficked women. This year, three women from Myanmar and one from Vietnam were rescued there, Henan news media reported. In 2009, another 10 from Myanmar were found.

It turned out that Phyu was in Xiangcheng, too, not Beijing. To girls from an isolated village in Myanmar, Xiangcheng seemed impossibly big.

The house, too, was big, Nyo said, spacious enough that Mr. Gao’s parents couldn’t hear when she screamed as he forced himself on her.

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