Over the past three months in Vietnam and northern Thailand, Marinho and I have interviewed dozens of people, both on and off camera, to learn all we can about human trafficking in general, and the trafficking of Hmong girls from Vietnam to China in particular.
We’ve met with experts fighting human trafficking at all levels (from the academics to those working directly with victims) and all stages (prevention, rescue, aftercare and prosecution).
We’ve been speaking with many people in the mountains of northern Vietnam who have lost family and friends to this horrendous trade, we’ve spoken to returned victims, and we’ve been learning all we can about the abductions of my friends M and P.
The situation here is far more complex than I’d imagined, and pieces are still falling into place. The people here are scared – of the criminals, and of the government. The traffickers have agents working within the communities they feed upon, who are often very close to the hearts and homes of their victims.
A physical abduction is coupled with lies and deception, calling into question the volition of the victim. The girls, in guilt and shame, are often reluctant to return home. Some are forced to choose between their family and friends in Vietnam, and their newborn children in China.
Each time we hear a story, it changes, and terrible truths are often concealed in vague expressions. If a girl disappears, it is assumed with shocking rapidity that she has ‘gone to China’, and is beyond the reach of her family, friends and the Vietnamese authorities.
Yet there is hope, and a spreading awareness. There are increasing numbers of people who refuse to tolerate this hideous crime. There are prosecutions and convictions of those who steal and sell girls. There are victims being rescued, welcomed back into their communities, and determining their own futures.
It’s a fight that takes time, energy and resources, but battles are being won, and girls are being saved.
If you haven’t yet contributed to our fundraising campaign, there are only two weeks remaining to raise the money required to complete our feature-length documentary film and, thanks to so many of our wonderful supporters around the world, we’re now within striking distance of our target!
Here on the final push, even a small contribution will make a big difference. If you’d like to receive a gorgeous photographic print by Marinho or myself, please contribute to our campaign here.