Five co-conspirators who sent at least a dozen Cambodian women to marry men in China were sentenced Thursday by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to jail terms under human trafficking laws, the latest in an increasing trend of similar cases.
The victims, who did not appear in court Thursday, were promised lucrative jobs and wealthy husbands by brokers in Cambodia but were instead sold to Chinese men who raped, abused, detained and, in some cases, sold them on, they have told the court and human rights groups.
Chinese national Tao Ye Hong, 35, and his Cambodian wife Nen Chengly, 31, as well as Net Soky, a 32-year-old Cambodian man, were sentenced to seven years in prison by Judge Kim Rothnarin.
“They are sentenced to seven years in prison under anti-human trafficking laws and sexual exploitation laws,” the judge said.
Also sentenced Thursday for their part in the ring were Cambodian women Sroeung Nara, 40, and Duong Svet, 63, who was tried in absentia. Each was sentenced to two years in prison, with an arrest warrant issued for Ms. Svet.
The judge also ordered that Ms. Chengly and Ms. Nara pay $5,000 each to two of the victims, Eng Lyna and Hay Sophea. He also ordered Ms. Svet to pay $2,000 compensation to Ms. Sophea.
At a July hearing in the case, one of the victims, a 29-year-old who has not been identified, said that a broker had come to her village with stories of women making a success in China and then paid her family $500 before arranging for her transport to China.
Once in China, she was sold to a Chinese man who raped her and then sold her on to another man, who did the same.
“I was sold from one house to another, like an animal,” she told the court.
Ms. Chengly denied the accusations, saying that she and her husband were approached by the victims, who were seeking employment in China, and that they merely facilitated their employment.
Mr. Tao denied any knowledge of the sale or sexual abuse of the victims, insisting that he had simply driven the women from the airport to a friend’s house on arrival in Shanghai.
Local rights group Adhoc reported that 29 women had been trafficked or sold into abusive situations in China in the first half of 2014—up from just 8 cases in all of last year.