Vietnamese woman reunites with family 20 years after being trafficked to China

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Tran Thi Hoa, 39, at her home in Nghe An after nearly 20 years in China, where she was sold to human traffickers by her husband

A woman from the north central province of Nghe An has come home after nearly two decades unaccounted for, saying she was sold to human traffickers in China by her Vietnamese husband.

Tran Thi Hoa, 39, returned to her parents' house December 22 after leaving to visit her husband, only identified as Binh, in the south central province of Binh Thuan in early 1994.

Hoa said her husband of one year had anesthetized her and sold her to a hunchbacked 60-year-old man in a mountainous area of Guangzhou Province, China.

She escaped after two months of slave-like treatment, wandering for a day in the jungle before she met a local woman who housed her and helped her find a job at a salon. She then married a local man and they now have three children, besides one of his own from a previous marriage.

She was helped to come home by a Vietnamese woman named Diep from Hai Duong Province outside Hanoi. Diep is also married to a Chinese man and she asked her brother in Nghe An to look for Hoa's family several months ago and inform them beforehand.

Hoa's mother Nguyen Thi Hanh said she had heard nothing of Hoa until contacted by Diep's brother. She thought her daughter had died.

Hoa followed her two brothers to look for jobs in Binh Thuan in 1993. The province is 1,500 kilometers from their home in Nghe An.

There, she met Binh, also from Nghe An, and they married. They came back to Nghe An two months later for the Lunar New Year. Hoa stayed while Binh left for Binh Thuan to continue work after the holiday.

The long-distance marriage did not work out and Binh fell out of touch for several months, prompting Hoa to come south looking for him.

Hoa said she found him and then decided to stay in Binh Thuan, but her husband became violent and tortured her.

She was anesthetized during dinner in June 1994.

"I felt dim after several bites. A person dragged me to a car later and when I woke up, I was in total strange land," Hoa said.

She was trafficked with four other Vietnamese women but each of them was led to a different location upon arrival, she said.

Local police said they had heard Hoa's story and would launch an investigation once the family filed an official complaint against Binh.

Vietnam authorities say human trafficking targeting Vietnamese is on the rise, with more than 3,000 attempts busted since 2003.

In 2012 alone, police foiled 437 attempts to traffic women, rescuing around 1,200 would-be victims and arresting 700 people.

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