I enjoyed speaking at Chiangmai University’s Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) last week, where I presented key findings from my recent research on the trafficking of Kachin women into China as “forced brides.”

In the talk, I discussed conditions in Kachin State, an ethnic region in northern Burma that has long suffered from an armed conflict with the central Burmese government. Engaging interviews with over 25 trafficking survivors, female soldiers, CBO women’s organizations, lawmakers, cultural leaders, IDP relief workers and administrators from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), I explained why the trafficking of Kachin women into China’s neighboring Yunnan province as “forced brides” has become a growing problem, the effects this conflict is having on women and gender relationships, and the current obstacles to implementing effective anti-trafficking policy in Kachin State.

I then turned to a broader analysis of policy trends in the US State Department-led anti-trafficking movement and the effects these policies are having on women on the ground—particularly women from ethnic minority communities in Burma. I concluded with a discussion of possible future directions in anti-trafficking policy for Kachin State.

Thanks to all who came out– including members of the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) and my amazing research assistant, Nan Pyung, who added her insights to the conversation.