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October 22, 2015
By: Luis Gay
Ly Thi Minh, a Vietnamese woman, has returned home after four years of forced marriage in rural China. In April of 2011, three young men invited her and her two sisters to a festival. Once they were all alone, Minh says that they were beaten, threatened and smuggled across the border into China. She explains that they were taken to a house seven hours away from the heavy surveillance border. The owner of the house, a man in his 50’s, ran a trafficking business selling Vietnamese women to men in China. The next morning both her sisters were sold. A couple days later, she was sold to Pay Long Phe, a man more than 20 years her age.
Pay spoke with Voices of America and said that he bought her for about $9,400 because he couldn't afford to marry a local Chinese woman. One of his relatives introduced him to the broker as he had bought a girl through the same business. He noted that the marriage brokers told him that their wives were obedient and hardworking, although he had no idea that Minh was kidnapped. Pay wants Minh to come back as they have an 18-month old boy.
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A now 18-year-old Minh was allowed to visit Vietnam this year only after she had her baby. She took this as an opportunity to escape However, it was at the cost of leaving her son. She expressed that leaving her baby was the hardest decision she has ever made. After crossing, Minh told Vietnamese police her story, but they already heard a similar version from her sister, Sua, who escaped four years prior. Sua identified one of her kidnappers and he was sentenced to jail, but he was released shortly as authorities claim there was not enough evidence to convict him. As of today, Ly Thi Sinh, the eldest sister, has not been heard from since being sold for marriage.
Every year, nearly 1,000 Vietnamese women and children are trafficked and sold abroad, mainly to China. This led to a high-profile crackdown in 2011 by the Hanoi government. Nguyen Dinh Thang, co-founder of the Coalition Against Modern Slavery in Asia (CAMSA), a non-profit organization supporting victims of human trafficking at Vietnam’s borders, said CAMSA is ready for battle. Thang stated that they are waiting a little while to see if the Vietnamese government will take action against human trafficking. If no action is taken, then they will campaign for the U.S. government’s intervention. The U.S. assess each country in terms of their effort put forth in human trafficking and may sanction countries labeled as Tier 3 (lowest tier). CAMSA believes that with U.S. assistance, the Vietnamese government will be more motivated to rescue victims and convict traffickers. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese police has not responded to VOA's requests for comment.
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Luis Gay is a sophomore attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Biochemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.