|Vietnamese brides [File Photo]|
Increasing exchanges have led the Greater Mekong Subregion to become one of the hardest-hit areas by human trafficking, according to Gary Lewis, an officer with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Chen Shiqu, director of the anti-trafficking office of the MPS, said that between 2009 and 2012, Chinese police rescued and returned more than 1,800 Vietnamese women who had been sold to Chinese in inner provinces.
The traffickers, who were acquaintances of the victims in most cases, promised to offer them jobs in China or help them find a Chinese husband before selling them for as much as 30,000 yuan (4,923 U.S. dollars), according to Chen.
The growing mobility has also posed a major challenge to border management, which is a thorny task due to a lack of natural barriers on the frontier.
Many traffickers choose to smuggle women through the border river of Peilum in Dongxing, according to a local police officer surnamed Chen. "The river is only 20 to 30 meters wide during its dry season, and one can easily wade it," he said.
Meanwhile, Chen said the city's anti-trafficking efforts have been confronted with new challenges, as trafficking gangs today have grown more professional and employed sophisticated methods to escape from the police.
For example, the number of female traffickers has been on the rise, some of whom are trafficking victims themselves, said Sun Xiaoying, a researcher with the Research Institute of Southeast Asia at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences.
Female traffickers can better conceal their identities to the police and win trust from their "prey" more easily compared with their male counterparts, Sun said.
Last March, police in Vietnam's Nam Dinh Province arrested six people on charges of abducting 21 women and children to China for prostitution. The principal criminal, a Vietnamese woman named Ngo Thi Hung Trang, had been trafficked to China in 2008.
Sun noted that a root cause behind the thriving human trafficking market is the surging demand for Vietnamese wives as a result of China's gender imbalance.
Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that in 2012, the national sex ratio at birth in China was 117.7 boys for every 100 girls, while the normal ratio should range from 103 to 105.
The ordeal of trafficked Vietnamese women highlights the dire need for harsher laws and more effective anti-trafficking cooperation, in addition to improved border management.
Sun called for legislation to deter buyers of trafficking victims. "Under the current Chinese law, traffickers are heavily punished, while purchasers are not held responsible," he said.
Also, the governments in the two countries should improve public legal education, Chen said. "We have found both traffickers and victims lack basic knowledge of the law, since in many backward places, women and children are simply seen as commodities," he said.
To tackle the crimes, China and Vietnam set up an anti-abduction cooperative mechanism as early as 2001. However, the escalating problem has highlighted the need to build a regional cooperative organization to further facilitate bilateral emergency responses, said Wu Guanghong, an associate law professor with Guangxi University for Nationalities.
For Xiang Xiang, not a day goes by without thinking about escaping, even if she knows the odds are very slim. "I am so tired. They don't even give me a break during my period," she said.
Xiang Xiang is at considerable risk for HIV infection, because most of her clients refuse to use condoms, and she said she is subjected to sexual torture.
"I will return home one day, whatever the cost," she said.
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