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China shares a long, porous border with Vietnam across which traffickers can easily spirit girls like Ly’s cousin.
They pluck them from all over the region, luring or simply seizing them with a range of methods, from pretend romances to promises of employment to forcing them in a car and driving off.
There was a buzz about girls who “go to China” or “get stolen” that if you were paying attention was impossible to miss.
One only needed to chat with the minority women hawking textiles in the street, shoot pool with the proprietor of a hotel or hang around Sapa O’Chau to begin to grasp the extent of the phenomenon. Some girls were taken outright, but others went of their own volition, spurred by a bad home life, an abusive husband or some dreaded, inescapable fate.
“I guess they decided to go together, or maybe one first made that decision and then worked on the other until she agreed as well.I’ve heard a story that the girls prefer the brothel because it’s probably closer to the border, so it’s easier for them to get away; whereas, if they were married it’s probably thousands of miles away and they could disappear into the interior of China.” China — that’s where they go, anyone in Sapa will tell you.The country is desperately bereft of women, the result of a cultural preference for boys amid the one-child policy.n the back wall of the classroom at Sapa O’Chau, a bootstrap operation in Sapa town, far northern Vietnam, where hill tribe children study to be tour guides, colored-pencil drawings depict young girls with tears streaming down their faces.
Some are shackled with metal cuffs; others are trapped in cages or giant jars.“You must be very careful.” The students drew the pictures in May 2012, shortly before participating in a made-for-TV documentary by MTV Exit, an initiative that campaigns to end human trafficking.