China’s dire gender imbalances caused by the One Child Policy, are sparking a surge in bride trafficking in Vietnam and other South East Asian countries.
Sharing a mountainous border of 1,350km with China, northern Vietnam is hit the hardest by human trafficking. Whole communities are reportedly now living in fear as their remoteness makes it difficult for local authorities to protect them from traffickers. The Guardian reports:
When Kiab turned 16, her brother promised to take her to a party in a tourist town in northern Vietnam. Instead, he sold her to a Chinese family as a bride.
The ethnic Hmong teenager spent nearly a month in China until she was able to escape from her new husband, seek help from local police and return to Vietnam.
“My brother is no longer a human being in my eyes – he sold his own sister to China,” Kiab, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said at a shelter for trafficking victims in the Vietnamese border town of Lao Cai […].
The Lao Cai shelter is home to a dozen girls from various ethnic-minority groups. All say they were tricked by relatives, friends or boyfriends and sold to Chinese men as brides. “I had heard a lot about trafficking. But I couldn’t imagine it would happen to me,” Kiab said […].
Vietnamese girls are sold for up to $5,000 (£2,944) as brides or to brothels, said Michael Brosowski, founder and chief executive of the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which has rescued 71 trafficked women from China since 2007.
So far, Chinese authorities have turned a blind eye to this problem, despite the claims of rights workers that the trafficking of women into China for forced marriage is a rampant problem.
As targeting illegal trafficking gangs is very difficult, the Vietnamese government is offering education programs in northern rural areas to warn girls of this risk. The issue becomes, however, more delicate when family members in cahoots with the traffickers.
By Aliaume Leroy
[Image via Satriya Dinata]