Poverty, debt, and lack of jobs have become a heavy burden on Cambodians who have to risk migrating overseas, which makes them vulnerable to sex exploitation, according to lawmakers and victims.
Ros Phan, a victim of human trafficking, recalled being forced to marry a man in China after moving there last year.
“When I left here I thought I would go to work in China, not to marry a husband,” Phan said during the Hello VOA radio program on Thursday. “I didn’t have a chance to work there at all.”
Phan received $1,000 as a dowry, which she sent home. She stayed with the man until she was rescued four months later.
“If I didn’t agree, I would be beaten up,” she said.
Phan was still beaten regardless.
“He beat me up when I refused to sleep with him,” she said.
Kem Yean’s daughter, Kem Chaiya, from Kandal province, has also fallen victim to trafficking.
Yean said Chaiya was tricked and sold to another Chinese man despite her marriage to her first Chinese husband after they had a child.
“They said they would give her 60,000 yuan (about $8,700) and the pimp took the money and escaped. Upon learning that, my daughter escaped, too.”
Chaiya left her husband and child to return to Cambodia for a while until her husband called her back to China in February 2016, where she was arrested and detained for two weeks in Henan province, according to Yean.
Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said parents should be aware of the danger their daughters might face in a foreign country.
Sochua blamed poor governance, poverty, and lack of jobs for victimizing these young girls.
“Our poor families in rural areas are in lots of debt,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter who people owe the debt to; either it’s the state or private sector, they will still have to pay it back,” she added.
Last year, the government rescued 85 girls from many countries, including China, according to Sochua.
“My true words to every Cambodian are that you should not marry a Chinese husband,” said Phan. “It’s hard to live together.”
“All parents please don’t send your daughters to marry Chinese men because it’s very difficult,” said Yean, who also called for intervention to release his daughter.
For Sochua, another solution is to respect and value women for their contribution in all areas of life, as well as refraining from discriminating against trafficked women.
“I’m appealing to the whole nation, especially neighbors and fellow villagers of trafficked women, to not discriminate against them when they return from China,” she said. “This is not their fault. This is a serious misfortune and we have to help save our women.”