BEIJING – Chinese police have rescued 32 Vietnamese brides who were sold to Chinese farmers in an operation aimed at curbing the practice in the backwards areas of the country.

Authorities arrested 75 accused persons who were allegedly part of a notorious group that trapped women in southwest China’s Yunnan province with promises of tourism and work, Yunnan Public Security Department said in a statement posted on its official social media account.

The victims were kept in large numbers in “captive families” in Yunnan — close to the Vietnamese border — in remote, mountainous areas before selling them to people in six provinces in central and east China, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Bride trafficking is a serious issue in China, where women are sold to men, mostly in rural areas, who cannot find wives at home owing to gender imbalance in the country.

The problem particularly prevails in impoverished areas, where farmers buy a bride from abroad as cheaper than paying a dowry for a Chinese bride. A Vietnamese bride is sold for 80,000 yuan ($11,600), the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The 32 rescued women are being transferred back to Vietnam, CCTV said. – APP