11.23.09 – Finally home in Lang Son, Vietnam and given a chance to start her own family, Nguyen Thi Phuong is exulting with joy while holding her first child. Phuong was a victim of human trafficking to China, where she was kept captive for over two years. Lured to the China and Vietnam border, Phuong was taken against her will to an unknown village in China, sold to become and older man’s wife, and forced to work for his family.
Nguyen Thi Phuong is one of the few lucky victims who managed to escape the growing cruelty of human trafficking. She is among tens of thousands of men, women, and girls across the globe who are trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation in China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Macau, Great Britain and the Czech Republic. According to US Department of State Trafficking in Persons 2007 report, trafficking victims are “recruited through fraudulent marriages, false promises of employment, licensed and unlicensed migrant labor recruiting agencies.”
The sad reality is that many of these victims are Vietnamese women and girls who were sold or kidnapped to regions like Cambodia for sexual exploitation. Humantrafficking.org reports that more than 50,000 girls were in brothels in Cambodia as of 2004, and many of whom were Vietnamese. The World Human Rights Organization and UNICEF also estimate that one-third of the prostitutes in Cambodia are under the age of 18, and the majority of them are Vietnamese. Other victims of human trafficking in Vietnam are from fraudulent marriages that lead to many women raped and abused by their husbands and in-laws.
Human trafficking is a serious problem and poor Vietnamese families are especially vulnerable. UNICEF argues that poverty, lack of education and awareness of trafficking and family conflict are among causes for human trafficking. According to the Vietnamese government, there has been a 60 percent increase in human trafficking cases in Vietnam from 2001 and 2006.
Like many Americans, I was blessed with a sheltered childhood. My childhood routine involved school in the morning, cartoons in the afternoon, hot dinners in the evening, and a warm bed at night. I couldn’t even begin to imaging how another girl, just like me, was locked away in a brothel across the world. How is this fair?
Well, it’s not fair, and we call can start making an difference. Take the first step by learning more about human trafficking in the Vietnam at websites like UNICEF and humantrafficking.org. There are also organizations like VOICE that are doing great work in helping victims of human trafficking. Lend a hand.