06/09/2012, 00.00
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Vietnamese migrant women treated like slaves in Malaysia

by Nguyen Hung
Coming from Vietnam's poorest regions, they have to pay up to US$ 2,000 to get a job. Employers exploit them to the bone. Hundreds of them are victims of the prostitution racket.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Vietnamese women who immigrate to Malaysia full of hope for a brighter future and better wages find themselves instead victims of abuse, exploitation and prostitution.

About 100,000 Vietnamese work in the Muslim country, 60 per cent women, mostly from the poorer regions of Vietnam. They are not very educated and can only hope to work as domestic workers, servers, or blue-collar workers in illegal plants. Many have been cheated by labour agencies and end up as prostitutes. On 6 May, police in Kuala Lumpur arrested five young Vietnamese women, one was under 15.

According to some social workers in Malaysia, trafficking in Vietnamese women has become another form of slavery. One young victim tells her tragic story. "I was forced to work from 8 am to 8 pm, sometimes until midnight. One day, I fainted from fatigue. I wanted to go back to my room, but my employer did not let me," she said.

The house where she lived was cramp, like a "bird cage", a few square metres shared with dozens of other women, hot, where rest was impossible. "Often, I had to eat rice and salt so as not to faint."

Labour agencies force the women to pay anywhere between a thousand to two thousand dollars to get a job before they can leave for Malaysia. Once there, their employers take away their passport to blackmail them in case of complaints.

About 10 per cent of these women are Catholic, the priest said, primarily from the dioceses of Vinh, Thanh Hóa and regions in northern Vietnam.

Writing on the website of the Episcopal Commission of Pastoral Care For Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), Fr Antony called on Vietnamese priests, nuns and lay people to go in Malaysia to help their migrant brothers and sisters.


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