Woman finds family 24 years after being trafficked to China

By Minh Nga   July 16, 2019 | 08:31 pm PT
Woman finds family 24 years after being trafficked to China
Nguyen Thi Lan (below), who was trafficked to China, is seen in a screenshot from a video call with her mother in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. Photo by Vietnam News Agency.
A Vietnamese woman tricked and sold to a Chinese man as a bride 24 years ago has found her family after her images were posted online.

Le Thi Lan, 43, is in touch with her family in Nghe An Province in north central Vietnam. 

She was the oldest child in a poor family with six children in Nghi Loc District.

In 1995, when she was 19, Lan went to work in a different district around 100 kilometers away and stayed with her employer.

She was tricked by a neighbor and taken to neighboring Thanh Hoa Province before being transported to Guangxi Province in southern China and sold to a 65-year-old man for VND7 million ($300 now/$636 then).

She had four children with the man, Vietnam News Agency reported.

But she was constantly abused and beaten by her husband, and tried to escape many times in vain, the report said. When they found her after a failed attempt to escape, the man and his family would even lock her up in a dark room.

She was given drugs every day to make her forget about her original family and home.

Since she lived in a remote area and worked in the field, she had difficulty accessing the outside world.

After several years the family sold her to another Chinese man, with whom she has been living for two years now.

The new man, 43, treated her well and even gave her permission and money to find her way back home.

But when she arrived at the border she was tricked out of her money and so had to return to her husband.

Earlier this month she met a Vietnamese woman who was working in Guangxi and offered to shoot a video of her telling her story and the names and address of her parents in Vietnam.

She posted the video on Facebook, which was widely shared and was seen by Lan’s sister-in-law, Thao.

Lan has been in touch with her family through video calls. Her mother, Nguyen Thi Lien, said her Vietnamese is rusty after years of living in China and not using the language.

When Lan disappeared two decades ago, her family tried everything they could to find her. Lien said she had always thought her daughter was trafficked to China.

Her father died four years after she went missing, partly due to the pain of losing his daughter, her mother said.

Lan desperately wants to return to Vietnam but is having trouble with her paperwork. She has ID papers under a Chinese name.

Authorities in Vietnam are helping make documents. Le Van Luu, chairman of Nghi Thinh, Lan’s commune, said local officials have visited her family to verify information about her.

The district police have met her family and authorities would do their best to bring Lan back to Vietnam as soon as possible, he said.

Data from the Ministry of Public Security shows that since 2010 there have been over 3,000 cases of human trafficking involving almost 7,000 victims, mostly women and children from poor and rural areas.

Most were sold to men in China, Malaysia and South Korea seeking wives or just to bear children or forced into prostitution.

China rescued more than 1,100 trafficked women, many sold as brides, in a joint operation with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam between July and December 2018.

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