When Un Sreyna sold her daughter to a Chinese groom in China for $1,000, the 49-year-old mother of five thought she was giving her then-22-year-old daughter a chance at a better life.
But the daughter, now 25, returned to Phnom Penh on Sunday after fleeing her abusive husband, who often beat her with a stick or rolled up floor mat.
“I thought my daughter would have happiness,” Ms. Sreyna said Sunday while waiting for her daughter at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
“But it turned out to be such a horrible situation.”
Ms. Sreyna’s daughter is one of 12 Cambodian women who have been taking refuge in the Cambodian consulate in Guangzhou, China, after escaping similar situations.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, four of the 12 returned over the weekend.
Cambodia and China have acknowledged a growing trend of Cambodian women ending up in abusive marriages in China. For Ms. Sreyna, it all started when a Khmer-speaking Chinese woman visited her home in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district and spoke of riches.
“We all agreed to send her to marry a Chinese man because we thought it would give us a good life,” she said. “My daughter would have a good life there, and money would be sent to us here.”
After agreeing to take the next step, the broker introduced Ms. Sreyna to a Chinese man via webcam. The two got along and a deal was reached, said Ms. Sreyna, who received $1,000 from the broker the day her daughter boarded a plane for China.
“If someone comes and asks me to do it again, I will not agree,” she added. “I have learned my lesson.”
Chhan Sokunthea, head of rights group Adhoc’s women and children program, said Ms. Sreyna’s story is very familiar.
Ms. Sokunthea said the Chinese groom usually gives the broker between $10,000 and $15,000 for a bride, and the broker gives the bride’s family $1,000 or less.
“They are told they can help their families back in Cambodia,” she said. “But it is not like that.”
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