An increasing number of Cambodian women are finding their way into sham Chinese marriages. Many are becoming victims of human trafficking -- for the purpose of forced labor or sex.
Chu Bun Eng is Cambodia's Secretary of State for the Ministry of Interior. She also heads the National Authority Against Human Trafficking.
She says restrictive visas will help lower the number of trafficked women. She says the government sent a letter to the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh. The letter reportedly says many Cambodian women are suffering after being tricked into sham marriages.
A spokesman for Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the government has asked for China's cooperation. Spokesman Koy Kuong says the appeal also went to Chinese embassies in Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, where Cambodian women may request for visas.
He says China has started to have stronger restrictions on visas because the problem keeps getting bigger. But a Chinese embassy spokesman, Cheng Hong Bo, says he cannot say if China is prepared to restrict visas.
He says only that China is ready to work closely with Cambodia on the issue.
"Between the two countries, I think that we should put more emphasis on [human trafficking]. I mean to cooperate more closely to deal with these issue(s)."
The rights group Adhoc says it received 108 reports of cross-border trafficking during the first six months of the year. Nearly 300 people reportedly were involved. Twenty-nine of them had gone to China.
Lim Mony of Adhoc says trafficked women who escaped from China have reported sexual abuse, overwork and starvation.
She says some of the victims took drugs in an effort to take their life while others went into hiding. Some have been kept as slaves.
She adds that traffickers working to set up fake marriages have a deep organization inside Cambodia and China.
One victim was Chan Rumduol, which is not her real name. She told VOA that her family was persuaded by a middleman to send her to be married to a man in China. In exchange, her family would receive money every month.
Instead, she says, she was taken by a human trafficker and raped. She says she was then given to a Chinese man, who let her live with him in rural China.
Chan Rumduol says she thought she would only have one husband, but was forced to change from one Chinese man to another. She escaped to call her mother, who turned to Adhoc for help. She finally returned home and reported the trafficker to the group. The trafficker has yet to be caught.
Chu Bun Eng says her office will take action on any complaints that reach her office. But Adhoc says many victims have reported complaints and government officials have refused to take action.
I'm Marsha James.