Sex Trafficking Victim to Be Held 3 Months Before Return, Mother Told

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The Cambodian Embassy in Beijing in 2008. (Wikimedia Commons)
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A Cambodian woman who was rescued in China after posting on Facebook about her two years as a sex trafficking victim might not be allowed to return home till March, her mother said she was told, though authorities denied there was a fixed date.

The young woman was brought to a Chinese police station in December after posting a call for help that she had been “forced to take husbands.”

Her mother said on Friday that she had lost contact with her daughter since she was brought to the station. But a support organization had told her that she was expected to return in early March as she had been detained as an illegal migrant.

“I miss her,” the mother said. “I can’t sleep well.”

A trafficking officer, who said he could not be named as he was directly involved in resolving the case, confirmed the timeline, saying it was common for repatriation to take three months, and the detention “is not serious like prison.”

Dy Thehoya, program officer at labor rights group Central, said many countries treated trafficking victims as illegal migrants — a practice he disagreed with.

“They don’t look at whether the victim went voluntarily or were deceived by traffickers,” Thehoya said.

However, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Monday that the woman was being kept at a “care center” for human trafficking victims. The Cambodian Embassy had already issued temporary travel documents, and was working with Chinese authorities to bring her home as soon as possible, Kuong said.

There was no fixed timeline, and Chinese authorities “always understand​ and help” Cambodian trafficking victims, he said.

The woman left Cambodia in 2018 as a 17-year-old after being promised a “good job” in China, her mother previously said. She arrived and found there was no job, but was still able to send money home for about a year until the abuse worsened. The mother said she reported her daughter’s case to police in October 2019, but it was not until the daughter posted the Facebook message more than a year later that they were able to track down her exact location.

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