A Pailin military police officer has made an impassioned appeal for the repatriation of his wife who, lured to China by promises of a hefty salary, has been sold multiple times to brokers attempting to wed her to Chinese men.
Van Seng, 53, yesterday told the Post that his wife, Chheng Srey Den, 32, had been approached by a broker who persuaded her to move to China for a factory job with a $1,200 monthly salary.
“I told her that is a lot of money. I had no objection, but I told her to be careful,” he said.
Seng, a military police officer in region 507, said he earns 690,000 riel ($169) per month.
Buoyed by the prospect of prosperity, Den placed their toddler in her parents’ care and departed Cambodia in June, but after two months, Seng received a call. “She called me to say she had been sold multiple times because she refused to be married with a Chinese man.”
He said the people who had most recently purchased her had asked a family, which included a Khmer woman married to a Chinese man, to lodge her. The woman, sympathetic to Den’s plight, allowed her to make some phone calls, though Den was usually deprived of any money or phones.
“However, she cannot help her to get out, because it will bring trouble for her from the brokers, who said she would have to pay if Den escaped,” Seng said. He said Den’s niece and a friend who had both travelled to China with her had married, and Den had been threatened that she would be pushed into prostitution if she kept refusing a Chinese union.
“I am so worried. And my child is still young, just 2 years old. He needs his mother to take care of him,” Seng said.
Den’s case is not an isolated incident. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry yesterday said a total of 47 Cambodian women had been repatriated from China in the first nine months of this year, the vast majority of them brides. He said his department was ready to help in Seng’s case provided they had more information.
Mom Sokchar, program manager at Legal Support for Women and Children, said there were many more women in need of repatriation, but bereft of the ability to contact relevant authorities.
Sokchar said women were often forced into marriage, prostitution or domestic servitude in China because brokers robbed them of their passports. He added that local Chinese police often viewed such cases as domestic violence incidents, rather than human trafficking.