Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Vietnam police bust gang selling women into prostitution in Malaysia

HANOI — Police in Vietnam have broken up a trafficking network which lured women to Malaysia on the false promise of lucrative employment but then sold them into prostitution, state media said Tuesday.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based ring, masterminded by Bui Trong Kiem, sold five young women to brothels in Malaysia before his activities were uncovered by police earlier this month, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Two of the women subsequently returned to Vietnam after seeking the help of the Vietnamese embassy in the Malaysian capital.

The pair told police that Kiem had duped them into travelling to Malaysia, saying he would arrange well-paid employment for them.

However, when they arrived they were sold to a Kuala Lumpur brothel called "Why Not" for 3,000 dollars each, where they worked alongside 60 other prostitutes.

Kiem, 35, was on Vietnam's most wanted list after police busted his people smuggling network in 1999. He subsequently returned from hiding in Cambodia to the bustling southern metropolis, the paper said.

Police finally nabbed their man, together with his female assistant, at Tan Son Nhat international airport while they were seeing off two other Vietnamese women headed to Malaysia.

The trafficking network is the second to be uncovered this month, and comes in the wake of last year's visa-exemption agreement between the two Southeast Asian nations.

Last week police said they had arrested six people, including a Malaysian man, who smuggled Vietnamese women to Malaysia to work as prostitutes.

Non-governmental organizations are increasingly concerned over the rise in the number of Vietnamese women being sent overseas to work in the world's oldest profession.

In April, state media said that over the past five years 30,000 women had been sold into prostitution in China or married off to men they had never met.

Thousands more from the southern Mekong Delta region, many of them minors, have been sold into prostitution in neighbouring Cambodia, according to the Vietnamese authorities.

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Created: September 20, 2002
Last modified: September 21, 2002
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