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Chinese factory ordeal over for Khmer quartet

Chinese factory ordeal over for Khmer quartet

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Four migrant workers speak to reporters after returning yesterday from China, where they worked under dire conditions. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Four Cambodian women working at a garment factory in Dongguan, China returned home yesterday after a nine-month ordeal during which they found themselves sick, overworked and trapped without passports in a foreign country.

Yin Sophy, 27, Sok Kunthea, 25, Non Sopheap, 21, and Yin Sophea, 20, travelled to China in August of 2011 after a broker promised them high salaries there. The group was repatriated yesterday after the Community Legal Education Center and the Cambodian embassy intervened on their behalf.

Arriving in Phnom Penh yesterday, victim Yin Sophea warned others not to make the same mistake.

“Please, Cambodians, don’t be too quick to believe brokers,” she said.

According to Yin Sophy, another victim, two had come down with stomach and respiratory illnesses, and two found themselves severely overworked.

However, when they tried to quit, their employer refused to let them go, withholding their salary and passports until CLEC and the embassy got involved.

Non Sopheap said the broker had tricked her, and her experience had totally dissuaded her from working abroad.

“I worked 12 to 14 hours per day, and I ate only two times,” she said. “I could not endure it.”

The mother of repatriated worker Non Sopheap, Non Sophal, 42, said they had tried to persuade their daughter to stay in Cambodia, but to no avail.

“Before, I did not want my daughter work abroad, but she wanted to because of our family’s poverty,” she said. “We heard she could get a higher salary than with local work, but now I know [better].”

The group has now been sent to Licadho for medical treatment, according to the CLEC.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]

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