Human rights groups on Sunday criticized as inadequate a government proposal, announced on Friday, to require single women to deposit $10,000 into a Chinese bank before they are allowed to visit China as tourists, a move meant to curb the trafficking of Cambodian woman to marry Chinese men.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement that the measure would “prevent the trafficking of Khmer woman” who believe they are moving to China for good jobs or marriage to wealthy men, but end up being caught in abusive relationships or sometimes sold into brothels.
“The Chinese Embassy has restricted the issuing of visas to single Khmer women by having received proper initiation letters first, and they have to deposit $10,000 in the Bank of China first if they want to go to China as a tourist,” it says.
Lim Mony, deputy director of the women and children department for rights group Adhoc, said the measure would not scare off the people profiting from the trade in Cambodian brides.
“What we must do immediately is create a memorandum of understanding [between Cambodia and China] stating what conditions are necessary for a Cambodian woman to marry a Chinese man.”
The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced last month that it is working on an agreement with China on the issue, but has yet to release a draft for public consultation.
At a press conference last week, Adhoc raised the alarm at mounting reports that Cambodian consular officials in China are ignoring complaints from Cambodian woman asking for their help in getting out of abusive situations. The government denied the reports.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for Licadho, said that implementation of a pending agreement would depend on the participation of local officials in both countries.
“The crucial measure is to improve the law enforcement by low-level officials,” he said. “If they observe activities by ringleaders who want to bring our Khmer women to China, they have to take action immediately in their local territory.”
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that the $10,000 could be waived for students, and advised women who can’t afford the deposit in China to head to a different country.
“If they don’t have the ability to afford their visits as tourists, they should change their visit to another country,” he said.
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