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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More brides on way home

More brides on way home

Two women who were trafficked as brides to China are scheduled to arrive home today after an anonymous donor read of their plight in the Post.

The victims, a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old, escaped abusive men they were forced to wed, but then found themselves stuck at the Cambodian Embassy in Beijing, as their penniless families were unable to front $400 plane tickets. Three weeks after the embassy procured legal documents for their return, the women still had no way out.

Their benefactor learned of the predicament, common among escaped trafficking victims in China, after reading about two pregnant, teenage cousins who last month told the Post they had resorted to sleeping on city sidewalks because of a lack of consular assistance and funding home.

“I realised it didn’t matter which two victims I helped, there were still 21 needing flights,” the donor said.

The women returning today are the fifth and sixth victims to be repatriated in the last two weeks. Rights group Adhoc said that 15 others awaiting airfare will be funded this month or next, but the number of victims keeps growing.

“I got calls from another three victims who cannot escape abusive families in China. One of the women said the family detained her and is torturing her,” said Chhan Sokunthea of Adhoc, adding that she would forward the complaints to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry yesterday posted on its website the phone numbers for all embassies and consular offices in China

Koy Kuong, Foreign Ministry spokesman, could not be reached for comment, but released a statement about two victims from Kampong Cham who had sought help with divorce and legal papers from the embassy in Beijing only to be redirected to the consulate in Shanghai. Without explanation, the women returned to the men they were sold to and told the consulate they would handle the matter themselves.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG

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