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Vietnamese women sold as wives to China allowed to meet families, 24 years on

Saturday, July 13, 2019, 16:57 GMT+7
Vietnamese women sold as wives to China allowed to meet families, 24 years on
Pham Thi Cai (right) with her older sister, Pham Thi Bong. Photo: Quoc Nam / Tuoi Tre

Pham Thi Cai and Pham Thi Nhan are not only neighbors in their poor village in the north-central Vietnamese province of Quang Binh, but also victims to one same fate - being duped and ‘sold’ to China to be wives of Chinese men.

The women both had their lives come to a sudden turn in the same manner 24 years ago, and the similarities of their fates continued as they were reunited with their respective families in Phu Hoa Village late last month.

Upon the reunion with their families, the two women recounted their respective stories of being sold to China and finding the ways back home to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

In 1995, Cai, then 24 years old, received an offer from a distant relative and a strange woman named Loan to come to work at a construction project in Laos, which shares the borderline with Quang Binh.

Without even the slightest moment of consideration, Cai’s family quickly agreed to have their daughter go with the strangers, believing it would help them escape poverty.

The following day after that meeting, Cai was already in a locality she believed to be in Laos.

But the 24-year-old woman had been surprised to see people there all spoke Chinese, before she found out a few days later that she was actually in a rural village located in China’s southern province of Guangdong.

The young Vietnamese woman was later forced to marry a Chinese man, who, according to local villagers, had paid 3,500 Chinese yuan to ‘buy’ her. (US$1 = 6.88 Chinese yuan)

Similarly, Nhan was taken to the same village by Loan, who had deceived her with the same ‘work in Laos’ offer, and sold to another Chinese man for 4,000 yuan.

The two women had no choice but to accept their fates as they neither spoke Chinese nor got any support there, they told Tuoi Tre in separate interviews.

Pham Thi Nhan with her parents. Photo: Quoc Nam / Tuoi Tre
Pham Thi Nhan with her parents. Photo: Quoc Nam / Tuoi Tre

After the first few months staying in Guangdong, Cai met a Vietnamese woman, who was also a Quang Binh resident that had been sold to China.

The woman helped Cai secretly send letters to her hometown.

In her letters, Cai told her family about what really happened to her since the day she left home, and that she could neither tell them her exact location nor know how to get back home at the time.

After learning the bitter truth, Cai’s family had reached out to different agencies to call for help, but eventually failed to make any progress in the search of their daughter.

The only way for the family to keep in touch with Cai was also ceased as no letters from her ever reached home after a couple of months.

As time goes by, Cai has recently had the courage to persuade her Chinese husband, whom she has two children with, to let her revisit Vietnam.

Cai’s husband finally gave a nod to her wish, and even allowed Nhan to return to Quang Binh with his wife for a visit.

After more than two decades without any information about the two women, little could their families in Phu Hoa Village believe their eyes when Cai and Han showed up in front of their houses in late June.

Unfortunately, the reunion was not complete as only Nhan was able to hug both of her parents, while Cai could not meet her father, who passed away years ago.

The two women will also have to return to China after the visit they had been waiting for a quarter of a century.

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