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askmey was 18 years old when her family told her it was time to marry. Having grown up in a small village in Cambodia, she always knew it was her duty to marry a good man who could pay her family a high bride price.
There weren't many suitable men in her village, and her uncle told her about eligible bachelors in a bordering country who would make excellent husbands. "They are good men," he said, "and you'll be able to work abroad and make extra money too!"
Raskmey was uncertain, but her family was excited and it seemed like a decent opportunity both to provide and to develop herself so she agreed.
Late one night, her uncle and two other men arrived at her home to pick her up, giving her family $2000USD for the bride price. Along with 4 other young women, they were driven 8 hours to the border.
When they arrived, Raskmey was asked to sign some documents in a language she didn't understand. She didn't realize she was signing a marriage license which could be used as proof against her pursuing legal action since she'd consented to the marriage. She was then passed off to another set of men who drove her 6 more hours inland. When they arrived at their destination, Raskmey was picked up by an older man who was to be her husband, and taken to his home.
Over the next year, Raskmey was repeatedly beaten and raped. She was forced to clean the house, do the laundry, cook the food, and give baths to her husband's elderly parents. She was not given much food or water, and had no access to her passport or phone. She didn't speak or read the native language, nor did she have any idea where she was.
Somehow, Ramskey found a phone and contacted a friend who put her in touch with an organization in her home country... who contacted us.
We coordinated to identify Raskmey's location and find volunteers able to help her escape successfully. They assisted her in buying a bus ticket to the nearest consulate (6 hours away) where she was received by another organization who provided safe shelter and food. After one month of processing, we provided an air ticket to send Raskmey home where she was received by a reliable organization to provide counseling and additional support.
Bride trafficking is an enormous issue, and for the vast majority of women, escape is simply not possible.
Many brides are purchased for the primary purpose of bearing children for the man. After giving birth, many mothers are not allowed to raise their children and face even more abuse. Due to the legal ramifications of this being a "consented" marriage and the father having primary parental rights, these mothers are forced to make the impossible decision of remaining in this environment or leaving their children behind to survive themselves.
Red Oak has begun partnering with multiple organizations to identify and assist victims of bride trafficking throughout Asia. There is much work to be done.
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