This post is also available in: Vietnamese
In Lao Cai, in the mountainous North of Vietnam, live ten girls in a small house of rescue. When I visited recently to announce the opening of “Compassion House”, which we have funded, I heard one of these girls tell a gathering of officials and friends the story of how she had been “trafficked” to China, and sold into marriage at the age of thirteen.
Britain and Vietnam are working together to tackle this sort of crime, which also impacts directly on Britain because many boys are now trafficked from Vietnam to help grow cannabis illegally there. International cooperation is crucial.
Many boys and young men leave Vietnam with high hopes of gaining a decent income to help support their families here. But some fall into the hands of criminals, who bully them into working on drug farms by physical threats and the prospect of having to repay debts incurred for “travel expenses”. They usually end up arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned or deported.
The Vietnamese Government takes this seriously, and last year ratified the UN Convention Against Organised Crime and its Human Trafficking Protocol. I am grateful to the agencies involved for working closely with us. We want to support them in using the UN Convention to stop the exploitation of children, whether of boys or of girls.
In Lao Cai, I was pleased to see that the young girl who spoke up had made good friends with her fellow victims, and at least for a year or two they would be able to stay together in the new shelter. But her worry, she said, was what would happen to the other girls left behind?