Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tragedy of Cambodian women victims trafficked to China

សោកនាដកម្ម​ស្ត្រី​ខ្មែរ​ដែល​ត្រូវ​គេ​បោក​យក​ទៅ​លក់​នៅ​ចិន

TUESDAY, 1 APRIL 2014, Unofficial Translation from The  Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition

TONG SOPRACH

Cambodian women were survived from trafficking in Malaysia. by Pha Lina

Cambodian women were survived from trafficking in Malaysia. by Pha Lina

I am sure you will recall the column about Cambodian women who are trafficked to China through the form of cross-border marriage in last week’s issue. In this issue, I am going to present a column about another form of human trafficking in which the victims are cheated and sold to China with the use of the term “employment” as the lure. This kind of trafficking requires strong networks and clear structures in both Cambodia and China.

The main factors that draw the victims into this scheme are poverty and low income. “Easy jobs” and “High salary”, the two phrases which the traffickers always use, entice their target from further consideration before making the decision to leave for China.

I am going to raise a case about a victim of this kind of trafficking, a Cambodian woman who was sold twice to China, just within the period of less than a month. She has just come back to Cambodia recently, after having experience hardships and pursuits in China.

Living in Takmao, Kandal province, she was a widow with two children, and their only way of living was to look for snail, fish, and water convolvulus from the nearby pond to sell in the local market. The victim had not known the trafficker before. The trafficking method started with the trafficker coming to buy fish from the victim and having a talk with her as friendly client. After three or four days, the trafficker said to her that her job could not help her improve her family situation nor even support her children. The trafficker added that if she went to work in China, she would initially get 700 US dollars for her salary, and it would rise to 2000 dollars in the one or two years; with that, she would be able to send money to her mother and children in Cambodia. No sooner had she heard that than she decided to go to work there for one or two years, hoping to earn money for her family. Therefore, she agreed to follow the trafficker. The trafficker later prepared all the required documents, including archive, passport, visa, and plane ticket to China about three weeks before they left for China. Obviously, this point is different from the trafficking through marriage due to the fact that the victim and her family do not receive any money from the broker and the trafficker accompanies the victim on the plane, ignoring all the Cambodian or Chinese authorities.

“Cold and hungry, they finally reached the consulate at 9pm. Once they saw the Cambodian flag there, they went to hug its pole, wiping their tear and hoping that they would be able to go back to Cambodia. Yet, the security guards did not allow them to enter the consulate.When it got darker, two kind Chinese elders gave them some food, which helped them get through another night.”

“When the morning came, they went into the consulate and asked for help. In contrast, one of the Cambodian woman officials blamed them. “You wanted their money too much” said that official, “Now, go back to where you came from, and don’t show me the crocodile’s tear. If you don’t go, I’ll call the police to arrest you”. Then, a Chinese woman official mocked to that Cambodian woman official in English that “Party!””

According to the victim, she met other nine Cambodian women accompanied by the same trafficker on the same plane when she got on it. When they arrived in Shanghai, she and the other nine Cambodian women got off the same plane with the trafficker and found two members of the Chinese trafficker’s group, a man and a woman, waiting to pick them up.  They brought all the women to a house and took away their passports, saying that they would be used for obtaining the other necessary papers for them to be in China. Then the traffickers brought them to Lork Phing, a district in the northern part of China. It was very cold and cloudy there. They put all the newly arriving women in a room, away from the ones who had been there before them. One of the two traffickers, the Cambodian woman who spoke Chinese fluently, told them that they would not offered any job unless they married Chinese men there first. If anyone refused and wanted to return to Cambodia, she had to pay them 3,000 US dollars. They said they had spent the same amount of money on bring each of them here. None of the women dared to refuse since they did not have money to pay the traffickers back.

As the victim continued with her narration, she reported that as soon as they were put in that room, she began to be aware that she was cheated and sold. In the next two days, many Chinese men came to look at the women, pointed at the woman they liked, and took her away with them. Again, none of the women dared to reject, as all of them were afraid that they would be beaten. Then one day, her turn came. A Chinese man chose her, and when she saw he handed a bunch of Chinese money with bright red color, which might worth about 15,000 USD, to the traffickers, she realized that she was really trafficked. That Chinese man, who would become her husband, also lived in Lork Phing. He was a farmer, who planted vegetables for living. While she was living with that man, she had to do all the housework and also collect the excrement and the urine from the neighbor houses for fertilizer which stank. It was a bad condition for her, and the cold weather often caused her nosebleeds. To her, all those chores were so much harder than her job in Cambodia. In terms of sexual relations, her husband always had sex with her anytime he wanted; no matter day or night. In average, he forced her to have sex with her 5 or 6 times per day. One week later, she found that she could no longer put up with such abuse, and accordingly, argued and had a fight with him. After that, he brought her to the traffickers, who were still in Lork Phing, and complained to them. Finally, he sold her back to the traffickers for nearly half of the original price.

Next, she was put back in to the room (the one where she was put in when she had just arrived in the same house), just to discover that some of the women who came before her arrival in China, were sold back to the traffickers too. Some of them were pregnant while others had been sold back for a lower price. At that time, she got the phone number of the Cambodian consulate from a pregnant woman. Two days later, another Chinese man bought her and brought her to his home. However, the traffickers still kept her passport to guarantee that she could not run away from them. This man, who worked as a construction worker, really wanted her to be his wife. He bought her a smart phone and laptop, and allowed her to contact her mother. He insisted on her asking her mother to send the paper that verify that she is single (not married) so that they could get married, but she did not, stating that she did not want to live in China. Consequently, her second husband forced her to do the housework and locked her in the third floor of the house. One day, while she was taking a bath, he came into the bathroom, and forced her to have sex with him. They fought, and his father came to help her once he heard that.

Meanwhile, her mother in Cambodia was so worried about her and filed reports to many anti-human trafficking NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hoping that it would help her daughter returning to Cambodia. In ten days, the victim of this case coaxed another victim into running away with her and coming back to Cambodia by air. Compared to the victim of this case, the other victim was much more miserable, being seriously beaten by both her husband and mother-in-law, and forced to have sex until she came down with menorrhagia (the condition which there is blood coming out of the vagina). The two women ran away from the houses, and tried to escape by the train. Yet, they did not manage to even leave Lork Phing when they were caught by a group of Chinese police officers on the train. They sent the two victims back by accompanying after having found that neither of them had passports.  When it got to this point, the victim of the case told me [author] that they knew those police officers seemed to have some sort of relationship with the traffickers by just looking at their faces (Cambodian women). The officers approached them and asked for their passport immediately, for without passports they have to send any victim back home to document their divorce.

Fortunately, in the train back home, the two victims met another police officer, who spoke some English, and told the other victim that if they did not got out of this train now, they would be back to their hell, with no more hope to be saved. The two women, accordingly, risked their life and jump out of the train, which was about two meters from the ground, while the training was slowing down to stop each station. They walked into a forest and continued their journey without an end in mind. The only thing they could find to eat was some ice [after snowing] on the ground. After a night with no meal, they found a bus. They use all their remaining money to pay for it so that they could go to the Cambodian Consulate in Shanghai.

Cold and hungry, they finally reached the consulate at 9pm. Once they saw the Cambodian flag there, they went to hug its pole, wiping their tear and hoping that they would be able to go back to Cambodia. Yet, the security guards did not allow them to enter the consulate. When it got darker, two kind Chinese elders gave them some food, which helped them get through another night. When the morning came, they went into the consulate and asked for help. In contrast, one of the Cambodian woman officials blamed them. “You wanted their money too much” said that official, “Now, go back to where you came from, and don’t show me the crocodile’s tear. If you don’t go, I’ll call the police to arrest you”. Then, a Chinese woman official mocked to that Cambodian woman official in English that “Party!” At that point in time, the two women knelt before those officials and tried to explain to them they had been trafficked, but they did not listen or care about them. The Cambodian woman official simply gave them some money for the train fee to get back to where they came. The two hopeless women walked to the train station, where they were saved by an NGO officer. The officer liaised with the consulate in order to send them back to Cambodia. When the two victims arrived at the airport in Cambodia, four police officers called them in to a room and tried to force the two women to pay them 2,000 US dollars, but they did not succeed. Then the NGO worker and their mothers came to get them. Filled with incomparable joy, the two women hugged their mothers and swore to never leave Cambodia.

Eventually, the victim added that there are many other victims who are living miserable lives. Some of them want her to help them, but she cannot afford it. Some could no longer put up with their horrible condition and have attempted to commit suicide. Most of their husbands are the poor, who could not afford to marry Chinese women; only a few are good men.

Solutions:

  1. To deal with the systematic human trafficking of Cambodian citizens to China, the approval of  papers and local authorities related to Cambodia-China marriage and employment should be restricted, especially at the airports. Apparently, the traffickers seem to have cooperated with some of the authorities as the result of bribery and corruption. To temporarily abort the marriage or employment is an ideal method, as it is hard to solve the problems caused by them when they take place. Corruption and bribery also exist among Chinese authorities, which allow the traffickers to carry on with their business. According to the report of the Ministry of Interior in 2013, the number of intervened case had fallen from 135 in 2012 to 93 in 2013. Still, this decrease cannot be taken as evidence the decrease in number of cases of human trafficking, as it has never had clear and accurate statistics.
  2. The Royal Government, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, should help the victims of human trafficking in China, who has been force to work hard and to be sex slaves, return to their home, and establish the measures and penalty for the diplomats and consular officials who discriminate against their own compatriots. Otherwise, it will result in enmity between the two nations.
  3. In the meantime, the local anti-human trafficking NGOs should target their aid to the victims who have been trafficked to China by seeking partner NGOs in China in order to provide support to victims of trafficking there. Furthermore, propagation of awareness and education in communities need to be expanded for women to fight trafficking.
  4. The local media should raise awareness of the consequences of human trafficking, and of anti-human trafficking laws. In addition, there should be programs featuring interviews with victims about their experience in order to send the message to the viewers, listeners, and readers that “If someone persuades you to work in China, you will be trafficked!”
  5. As the matter of fact, human trafficking to China under the image of marriage and employment which is easily approved by the local authorities often is a sore spot for some legal march-maker Korean companies, who find out problematic and contentious. Are the friendly political relations between China and Cambodia creating the conditions for the suffering of trafficked Cambodian women? Throughout history, the Chinese and the Cambodians have had been marked by fraternity and intermarriage; as the proof, many Cambodian citizens of are of part Chinese descent. Based on the 2010 census in China, of it 1.3 billion population, the number of Chinese men outnumbers that of Chinese women by around 34 million. In Cambodia, on the other hand, the population is around 13.4 million while the number Cambodian women is 360,000 higher than that of Cambodian men (2008 census). This symbiotic asymmetry in gender ratios between the two countries may lend suggestion to the conduciveness of marriage between Cambodian women and Chinese men, but it should be done according the tradition in which the bridegroom and his family have to properly propose to the bride’s family. They also have to give her the right to come home to pay visit to her relatives and work or do business in either Cambodia or China, rather than cheating her, selling her, and abusing her as if she were an animal.

Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.

Comments: soprach.tong@phnompenhpost.com

 

From migrant bride to sex slave in China

ពី​មាន​ឈ្មោះ​ថា​រៀបការ​ក្លាយ​ជា​ទាសករ​ផ្លូវ​ភេទ​នៅ​ស្រុក​ចិន

WEDNESDAY, 26 MARCH 2014, Unofficial Translation from The  Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition

TONG SOPRACH

Cambodian women were survived from Malaysia. The PostCambodian women were survived from labor exploitation from Malaysia. The Post

Everyday, human trafficking of all forms takes place in the world. Cambodia is one of the countries in which the intervention and apprehension in cross-boundary human trafficking to countries such as Western Europe, the United States, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand have been deeply involved. It is still kept in the Tier 2 Watch List by the United States.

At present, human trafficking through the form of marriage migration to China has become a problematic issue. Some parents have not received any information about their daughters for many months. Some of them know about their daughters’ terrible situations; however, they cannot do anything but report to anti-trafficking authorities or the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh while their daughters are physically, emotionally, and even sexually abused. I would like to share what I know about human trafficking to China with all of you after I have learned the whole story from victims of trafficking, the victims’ mothers, Chinese-Khmer translators, and anti-human trafficking NGO officers. How does human trafficking take place from start to end?

Cambodian Women are sold from one country to another

A few years ago, it happened to only Vietnamese women, especially prostitutes, who were brought away from their homeland to be sold in China. Now, this trend has shifted to Cambodian women after political and economic systems between Cambodia and China are better integrated. The broker (trafficker), taking advantage of this condition, have been using a wide range of methods to trick Cambodian women into being trafficked to China. The trafficking process starts with the broker in Cambodia using a wealthy-looking man to lure the woman to China in the form of marriage. They claim that they will treat her well, buy her a car, give her money to send to her family, and pay for occasional visits to Cambodia. Then they will take photos of her posing with modern and expensive materials. After that, the Chinese broker will bring those photos to Cambodia; find a Khmer broker to be his or her partner, and start disseminating them in rural villages. The Khmer broker uses the Chinese man’s name to persuade the parents into making their daughters marry those Chinese men and move to China in order to be rich like the married woman in the photos. Moreover, the brokers will guarantee all the expenses of preparing the required documents, but the groom is not present in Cambodia; he will pick up the bride at the airport in China.

“One of them felt so happy as if she had been reborn when she saw the photos of Samdach Decho Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, and his wife, Bun Rany, in front of the Consulate. Immediately, she knelt down and bowed to those photos. In contrast to what they had expected, those five women were sent back to their houses by the consulate officials due to them not being in possession of their passports.”

As soon as the parents and the daughter agree on and put their thumb-prints on the wedding contract, they will be given $500 as the bride price. After preparing all the required documents, the brokers will buy a plane ticket for the daughter to leave for China, from the airport in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. According to a victim, she had to be on her own on the plane, without the brokers, as they do not want to arouse suspicion of their role in human trafficking. When she reaches the destination, one or two of them (the traffickers) are waiting for her at the airport in China. They will bring her to the gathering place, just like a warehouse. Then all the newly arriving women will be seated in rows in a one-way mirrored room, like motorbikes in a garage, waiting to be bought by the customers who seek a wife or mistress. The prices range from over 10 thousand to over 20 thousand dollars, based on the women’s appearances. It is a ten-fold profit for the traffickers, who spend around only more than one thousand to two thousand to buy those women from Cambodia. The customers are not rich; most of them are poor blacksmiths, mountainous loggers, or farmers who want children since Chinese culture emphasizes the importance of carrying on the family name. Some of them saved money for a long time or collected money from their relatives so that they can buy a woman from the “warehouse”.

China, Case I: A Khmer woman was sold to a Chinese logger with epilepsy, who is living with his mother at the foot of a mountain. The mother wants her son to have a son to bear the family name. That man will always force her to have sex with her 5-6 times a night, but she does not refuse because she is afraid that he will beat her. She had to bear the hardship, and dare not to say anything, even when she is sick. To make worse, her husband will also beat her when she still has her period, saying that she has secretly taken abortion pills. No one helps her when she is beaten, not even her mother-in-law. Simply speaking, she is treated as a “baby-making machine”. Until now, she still has no child. She has to live a very miserable life, facing problems over many things such as language and food, and having no right to go anywhere she wants. Her passport was seized; the only thing she has is a phone. She also has to help her husband with his work and with carrying water. When she finds it too hard, she calls her parents to tell them that life in China is so much harder that in Cambodia, but she does not know what to do. Unable to speak any Chinese, she does not know where she should complain. China is a very big country; furthermore, she does not know anyone there. The Cambodian Embassy is in Beijing, and it has only several consulates in some of the provinces. What her parents can do is cry aloud, feeling sorry for their daughter, and not knowing what to do in order to bring their daughter back to Cambodia. In addition, a consulate responsible for a region has no authority to house in its territory a Cambodian citizen from areas not under its jurisdiction.

China, Case II: Similar to Case I, the abuse in this case was caused by Chinese husbands. Two Cambodian women tried to run away from the house at night. One of them still had her passport while the other did not, for her passport was seized. They reached a Cambodian consulate in a Chinese province. The one who had the passport was able to buy herself the plane ticket to come back to Cambodia with the money sent to her by her parents. For the one who did not have the passport, the consulate officials did not pass her the transferring letter for emergency situations, which serves as an alternative to the passport, and sent her back to her to her husband’s house, assuring that she would not be lost. That was because the laws in China require her to file for divorce and completely terminate the bond of marriage with her Chinese husband before she is allowed to return to her country. When she was sent back to that house, she was locked up, her phone seized and abused again. In such conditions, she may die or suffer from psychological trauma.

China, Case III: This is another similar case. Five women escape from their houses from different provinces to the Cambodian Consulate in Shanghai. One of them felt so happy as if she had been reborn when she saw the photos of Samdach Decho Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, and his wife, Bun Rany, in front of the Consulate. Immediately, she knelt down and bowed to those photos. In contrast to what they had expected, those five women were sent back to their houses by the consulate officials due to them not being in possession of their passports. If they had had their passports, they could have bought the plane ticket by themselves, and would not have had to seek assistance from the consulate.

If the laws in China were as such, why did the consulate officials not keep them there and provide them with food and shelter first before deciding what to do next? If they could not do that, why did they not communicate with the IOM (International Organization for Migration) and ask them to prepare the required documents for those women to return to their home country? How could they ignore the pain and misery of these Cambodian women? After becoming diplomats, they have always enjoyed the high pay and living standard in a foreign country, indifferent to the welfare of their compatriots.

There are many related questions over this issue. How do some of victims, who do not have I.D cards yet, get passports so easily? Moreover, some parents do not experience financial problems, but they are greedy, and they want to be richer so that they could seem better-off than anyone in the village, without knowing that their daughter will be sold. Therefore, it is very important for those who have daughters to be careful and not believe the lies and persuasion of the broker or trafficker who come to your villages. Please be aware that for the price they pay us, Chinese traffickers are profiting from this transaction. After she gives birth to a child, the woman could be sold again to the others with only a little loss in price. Meanwhile, the anti-human trafficking authorities should also know Chinese in order to intervene in time. In conclusion, the government should reconsider this issue, and the fact that diplomats and consulate officials in China have not expressed any sympathy for Cambodian women who have been trafficked and have become sex slaves.

Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.

Comments: soprach.tong@phnompenhpost.com