A Vietnamese woman is facing charges of fraud and human trafficking as investigation has found she tricked local women, including minors, into sex trade in Malaysia.
Investigators from the Ministry of Public Security said Friday they have acted on victims’ complaints and completed the case against Tran Thi Phuong Long, 31.
According to the victims, Long, 31, had tricked around 45 Vietnamese women from across Vietnam to travel to Malaysia for well-paid jobs but then forced them into sex work, which is illegal in both countries.
But police have only managed to verify six cases, including three who escaped to Vietnam last July. The other three were helped to return home in August, soon before Long was arrested.
Some of the women were under 18.
Investigation found that Long left Vietnam for Malaysia in 2004 and made a living by selling noodle soup and helping at a pork shop.
She learned about the sex industry in Malaysia in 2009 by working for a Malay owner of many bars and restaurants, bringing his staff to various places to serve sex to customers.
Soon later, she was contracted by the man to provide him women under 30 years old from Vietnam. The deal gave her a VND2 million (nearly US$1,000) cut on each woman.
Long traveled home many times from 2010 to recruit women.
She told the women she owned some bars and restaurants and she needed waitresses, for wages of more than VND10 million ($500) a month, several times more than the average income in Vietnam’s rural areas.
Victims said the offer was attractive, and they only knew that they had been scammed after arriving in Malaysia.
They were forced to serve sex to customers and their payment was withheld to pay for their visa fees and air tickets.
Three of the women managed to escape and came back to Vietnam last July.
But Long and her Malay boyfriend Yeow KengHo went to their hometowns and attack their relatives in order to force them to come back to work.
They beat an escapee's brother after he refused to pay the money for her visa and air tickets, and took his smartphone.
For that act, the duo are facing robbery charges, according to the police.
Vietnam police early this month arrested another Vietnamese woman and a Malay man for conducting a similar scheme.
An officer said many Vietnamese women have left their poor hometown longing for a better life overseas. But thousands have ended up as sex workers.
Chinese market once made the headlines, but Malaysia seems to be the new destination now.
“Some women who have been rescued still want to go back, even when they know for sure they will be forced into sex work again,” the officer said.