Thursday, August 11, 2011

Caught in the net

If you're on Blue Dragon's mailing list, you'll have received a message this morning with some very good news.

In short, we've been involved in helping 2 teenage girls who were trafficked from Vietnam to China and sold to brothels. Our support has enabled them to return to their homes and start getting on with their lives... and we've also been able to bring most of the trafficking ring to justice. The one remaining person involved appears to have fled the country, so is now on an Interpol watchlist.

We're really pleased to have been able to achieve all this, and it's tremendously satisfying to see the girls starting to resume a normal life.

A fascinating 'sideline' to this story is the role of the internet in human trafficking.

Most cases we have dealt with involving the trafficking of girls to China has involved the internet in some way or another. Typically, the traffickers are meeting girls online and becoming their 'friends' via chat rooms. They then arrange to meet in person, show some generosity, and eventually take them on a holiday or shopping trip near the Chinese border. The final step is to say "Let's go shopping over the border," or "I have a really good friend who lives just on the other side of the border," and the girl is kidnapped.

In this most recent case, though, the internet also played a role in the escape of the 2 girls. After they had broken out of the brothel, they found themselves in a Chinese city over 1000km from Vietnam. Just as a chat room had been the start of their troubles, the same chat room was their best chance to reconnect with their families back home and call for help.

Each trafficking case that we get involved with teaches us new lessons - and no matter what we see or hear, each case reminds us that we have so much more to learn.

We only hope that each new case we work with can prepare us better to help the girls who are being targeted by traffickers, and find new ways to counter the trafficking before it even takes place.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

great news! good work!

Cheers,
Vickie

Vietnam cultural tours said...

Yeah, that's a very good news from you. You know what, most of the victims are young girls who are able be online to chat to make friends with many people. Although there are many warnings about this trafficking but they still get lured. I hope these girls have learned a big lesson and will returned to the normal life soon.

Katrina said...

Great story, and interesting observation. There is room for some comment here about the need for education and awareness about online safety - not just in Vietnam but everywhere.

I hope the Vietnamese government doesn't use stories like this to justify further blocks of social networking sites like Facebook - as it won't help to solve the problem but merely push it further underground.

Michael Brosowski said...

Thanks for the comments.

It looks to me that the traffickers work pretty hard to build trust: they may cultivate a relationship over some weeks or months and appear to genuinely be friends. They may give gifts, go out for meals, and all sorts of "normal" stuff right up until the last moment.

So far a lot of organisations have put time and effort into general awareness raising activities which don't seem to have yielded much result.

My own opinion is that the young people being targeted need skills in self-preservation... for example, "Never go with someone unless your family knows." These aren't skills you can pick up from a TV ad or a poster; they have to become part of the culture of communities.

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