Three Cambodian women trafficked as brides to China returned home yesterday, another victim is expected back today, and a further 15 women are awaiting money for airfares, the Post has learned.
The repatriated victims are the latest among a growing number of Cambodian women seeking assistance from local NGOs and the Cambodian Embassy to escape Chinese men they were forced to wed.
“My mother had to borrow $400 to pay for my ticket,” said one of the victims returning from China yesterday. She added that she doesn’t know how her family in Kampong Cham will be able to gather the funds to make a repayment plus interest; they were already counting on the never-received remittances from the high-paying factory job that had lured her abroad last year.
“I lived as a wife but I was considered a sex slave.… I had to work as a maid in [my husband’s] house, but he did not give me any money for sending to my mom at home,” the 23-year-old said.
Rights monitor Adhoc said they have so far received complaints from the parents of 31 women trafficked to China this year, compared to eight cases last year.
For the few Cambodian women who manage to escape, they find their embassies and consulates unable to provide much more than legal paperwork. Costly flights remain an elusive barrier to repatriation.
Some of the 15 women awaiting their homecoming have had paperwork ready for two months or more but no plane ticket, said Chhan Sokunthea, head of the women and children’s section at Adhoc.
“Sometimes an international organisation or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will pay, but the process takes a very long time”, she said, adding that more help from NGOs in China was needed.
Koy Kuong, Foreign Ministry spokesman, and officials at the Cambodian Embassy in China could not be reached.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON