Relatives of five women from Battambang province who say they were trafficked to Malaysia and remain there have contacted Cambodian NGOs for help, NGO workers said Monday.
Representatives of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center and local rights group Adhoc said they spoke last week with an uncle of two of the two women and the sister of one of them, who claim the women were forced to work at a brothel in Malaysia.
Nop Sarin Sreiroth, CWCC’s Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator, said she has received reports that two sisters amongst the group are reportedly with a Malaysian NGO, while the whereabouts of the others are uncertain.
The two sisters left Cambodia on June 25 with three other women after a Cambodian woman identified as Ran promised them high-paying jobs, she said.
Megat Hisham, first secretary at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh, said he was unaware of the case.
He said allegations of trafficking to Malaysia were usually “unfounded rumors” and that the human trafficking problem in Malaysia was nothing compared to the situation in Thailand and Vietnam.
He said the Cambodian women likely entered Malaysia illegally.
If they had used one of 11 government-authorized employment firms, they would have received legal protections and frequent monitoring in the country, he said.
“Most of these cases, they allow themselves to be illegally smuggled into Malaysia for employment,” he said. “There is no legal protection for them because they enter the country illegally.”
The Malaysian and Cambodian governments are cooperating on the issue, he added. “There is no problem whatsoever with the repatriation of the Cambodian workers. We even absorb that cost, on humanitarian grounds.”
The CWCC has already helped repatriate 37 Cambodian women from Malaysia this year, Executive Director Oung Chanthol said.
She said she knew of about 150 trafficked Cambodian women working in Malaysia or awaiting return in detention centers.