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Underage girls among brides back from China

Three Khmer women, two of them underage, were repatriated home late last week after becoming brides to Chinese men, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday.

Two 15-year-old girls from Prey Veng and Kampong Cham provinces, as well as a 20-year-old from Banteay Meanchey, returned to Cambodia on August 26 after assistance from the consulate in Shanghai.

Both the underage girls were trafficked via brokers through Vietnam into China, and fled because their husbands restricted their freedom and did not let them leave the house.

The mother of the 15-year-old from Prey Veng said in an interview yesterday that she was relieved her daughter, who had been in China since May, had returned.

“She said it was difficult to live there. I wanted her to come back because she is so young,” she said.

Winrock International's Sara Piazzano, head of USAID's Counter Trafficking in Persons Program, said the case was referred to the project by local authorities after the parents reached out for help.

“It is the first time we come across a case of underage girls from China,” she said. “The route from Vietnam is not new, and it started since the monitoring at Cambodian airports has increased.”

She said the discovery that young girls had been trafficked was “worrying”, but it was promising to see both governments working together to fight the crime.

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