Human Trafficking In Vietnam: An Update

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
April 10, 2007

On Tuesday police in Ho Chi Minh City said that they had broken up an illegal match-making business where eight South Korean men were choosing potential “brides” from among 118 local young Vietnamese women.

Police in the raid Monday detained the Vietnamese couple who had organized the business. The women were sent back to their home towns, mostly in the poor Mekong Delta region.

“They thought their lives would change for the better if they married a foreigner,” a police officer told reporters, adding that the women had also been handed into the care of provincial communist women’s unions.

International marriages are legal in communist Vietnam, but the match-making rings — where the women are typically paraded before men, sometimes holding signs with numbers, for selection — are not, and the phenomenon has stirred anger here.

Men in South Korea and Taiwan who can afford to “buy” women use “matchmaking agencies” to serve as liaisons.

The U.S. Department of State has decried this behavior and had urged Vietnam to work to put a stop to human trafficking. 

Last year, the U.S. put Vietnam on a special watch list because Vietnam was not meeting internationally recognized minimums for fighting human trafficking.

Vietnam is not the only nation where this is a problem.

Young Thai girls and women and Cambodian females are also highly prized by men with the financial resources to come to these countries for women.

After visiting Vietnam and Cambodia, Human Rights activist Hoi Trinh said, “the experience left me more aware of what poverty can do to ordinary lives and less sympathetic to man’s tendency to abuse if left unchecked.”

Vietnam has become a popular destination for bachelors from South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere searching for a women, often on week-long marriage tours that include medical checkups, visa procedures and speedy honeymoons.

The women are promised a better life but often end up with their “husbands” confiscating their papers and passports and treating them as sex slaves.

Asian women are often sent to America with promises of better lives and they end up as prostitutes servicing as many as 70 men a day.

Last year Vietnam summoned South Korea’s press attache to Hanoi amid angry protests from women’s groups after a newspaper in Seoul printed a photo of a line-up of Vietnamese would-be brides kneeling before a Korean suitor.

John E. Carey is former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc. and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.

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