An Australian filmmaker is currently in the process of finishing a documentary about his search for two of his Vietnamese friends who were kidnapped in Vietnam and became brides in China.
In a recent interview with the website Too Many Adapters, Ben Randall described what inspired him to begin the documentary that would become “Sisters For Sale“:
In 2010 I was teaching English in Sapa, in the mountains of northern Vietnam. There was a small group of teenage Hmong girls who would sit on the corner of my street, selling treks and handicrafts to tourists. I saw them every day, and we became friends.
Within the next two years, five of those girls were kidnapped in separate incidents. They were believed to have been trafficked into China to feed the demand for brides and prostitutes. The Chinese one-child policy, and a preference for sons, has led to a shortage of tens of millions of women there.
“Human trafficking” suddenly became very real, and very personal, to me. I decided to go back to Asia to try and find my friends, and do whatever I could to raise awareness of the global human trafficking crisis. ‘The Human, Earth Project‘ was born.
Miraculously enough, Randall was able to find two of his friends in China. Fortunately, they had been sold into marriage instead of prostitution, and had become mothers. Randall says that now they face the impossible choice between their children and their freedom.
Currently, the documentary is only partly finished and Randall is crowdfunding to complete the project. To spread the world about his film, he participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session earlier this week, answering questions about how he went about his search and the conditions in rural Vietnam that make it so vulnerable to human trafficking.
With still three days to go, “Sisters For Sale” has surpassed its target of $56,000, raising over $62,568 thanks to 2,197 backers. By donating just $1, you’ll be able to watch the first 40 minutes of the film.
You can check out the documentary’s first trailer below:
Thanks to the recently abolished one child policy and a traditional preference for boys, there is an estimated 33 million Chinese men who won’t be able to find a wife. This has led to a lucrative market in brides from other countries, particularly Vietnam. While some of the women come willingly, many more are kidnapped from their homes and trafficked across the border.
In the past, Chinese authorities have made some efforts to crackdown on the bride trade. In June of last year, police in Yunnan arrested 18 members of a gang who were smuggling Vietnamese women into China and selling them for 10,000 to 40,000 yuan. Last January, seven Vietnamese women were returned from China after being abducted.
From 2009 to 2012, Chinese police returned more than 1,800 women who had been brought to China illegally, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.
The trafficked women sometimes seem quite satisfied with their new relationships because of better economic prospects in China. However, others have been known to try to run away, infuriating Chinese husbands who sometimes spend 100,000 yuan on their brides, leading to lawsuits against matchmaking companies.
Another report from 2011 found that 60% of women who were brought to China by traffickers from 2005 to 2009 escaped. Around 25% were rescued by Chinese police and the rest were released after their families paid the traffickers.
Chinese bachelors can even shop online for their future brides. Last year, Taobao made headlines after Singles’ Day, China’s biggest shopping day of the year, because of one post advertising: “For only 9,998 yuan, bring a beautiful wife home.”