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Woman arrested for allegedly trafficking five to Malaysia

Two repatriated Cambodian nationals leave Phnom Penh airport in 2015 after being trafficked to be sold as brides.
Two repatriated Cambodian nationals leave Phnom Penh airport in 2015 after being trafficked to China. Vireak Mai

Woman arrested for allegedly trafficking five to Malaysia

A 45-year-old woman was arrested in Battambang on Monday for allegedly trafficking five women to Malaysia after a father of one victim complained to the provincial police.

Bun Vannara, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking police, said that authorities arrested suspect Yeurn Pheap, 45, in Bavel district’s Ampil Pram Doeum commune.

He said Pheap received $400 from brokers for helping traffic five women, including her daughter. “She thought she could easily earn money from that,” he said.

Vannara said there were two more suspects. “We are still working,” he said, adding that Pheap would be sent to court today.

While four of the women sent to Malaysia had been able to travel back and forth between there and Cambodia, Vannara said, 22-year-old victim Mao Mom had been stuck overseas the entire time.

In an interview today, Mom said she had left Cambodia in November of 2016 and only returned on January 4 this year.

“The suspect came to my family and asked me to work in Malaysia as a maid, saying I could get a good salary – about $300 per month,” she said. But once in Malaysia, the salary never materialised, and abuses at three different workplaces followed instead.

“At the first place I worked as a maid for just a week. They ... only allowed me to eat the bad leftover rice,” she said. “Then they sold me to another place.”

At the second place she also worked as a maid, she said, and stayed for seven months. “Once they hit me with ice on my forehead because I put the medicine in the fridge,” she said, offering an example of the abuses she suffered there. “Then I was sold to work as a fruit vendor.”

This was where she suffered the most abuse, she said, explaining that she was hit about once a week for failing to lift the assigned 80 to 90 kilograms of fruit. Ultimately, she said, she was locked in a refrigerator.

“I was kept in the fridge until I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t eat anything. I almost died,” she said. “Now I still have difficulties breathing and feel the pain in my bones.”

Her employer finally sent her to a doctor and then back to an agency in December of 2017.

“For all of this I have never gotten any salary,” she said, adding that she didn’t want any suspect to go to prison. “Just pay the money for what I worked.”

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