If You Don’t Save Me, I Will Have To Live With Them
I felt sadness looking at the little girl. I feel resentment towards her mother and sisters.
M. lives in Arey-ksath, her family practice Buddhism, orphaned by her father at a young age. They are of Vietnamese origin and very poor. A year ago, she was still a little child with runny nose. But now she is a 14 year old developing girl.
A month ago, a voice hurriedly said “sister, if you don’t help me, I will have to follow those people”. That was M.’s desperate plea being told to me through a neighbor.
This is her story. She has 3 older sisters, and all 3 have been taken to Phnom-penh by her mother to work as prostitutes. They all have stopped and got married. Two of the sisters have already gone through 2 marriages and both have been left by their husbands so their marriage left is a wreck. The other sister also stopped working as a prostitute and left town with some man for the past year and has not heard from since.
As for M. she has been sold by her mother 3 times already.
The first time, she was sold to a 60 year old man in Phnom-penh but somehow not only did her let her go home without asking for a refund but he also gave her 20 dollars.
Her mother and sister continued to take her to the brothel but the owner didn’t want M. because she was still young.
Not giving up, M’s mom intended to take her to the Vietnam border to sell her again but M. refused. M jumped from the moving car and cried. Her mother calmed her down and took her home. M. informed us of this problem and asked us to intervene but her mother and sisters found out and prevented her from speaking to me again.
We decided to invite the head of the village to meet with M. to gather more information. M. told us everything that happened and asked us to bring her to someplace where she could learn some trade because she doesn’t want to live with her mom anymore.
I wanted to bring M to the OBV house. But after M. went home, her mom and sisters criticized and threatened her. They even criticized and yelled at all of us. That night, myself and the committee asked one of M’s brother to come meet us at the church and told him everything that we know and asked him to go home and convince his mom and sisters.
The next day, the committee and the village leader met with the mother and asked her to sign this statement: “You cannot sell, physically or verbally abuse M. If you violate any of these conditions, the village leader will report them to the police. As for M, whether she wants to leave or stay her family is entirely up to her.”
Because of her immature age, constantly affected by external forces, after just one night, M. changed her mind and didn’t want to leave anymore. M’s mom agreed to sign the statement. M. continued to live with her family and her conditions seemed to improve.
Although M. didn’t come to live at the OBV house but knowing that she was more comfortable I was comforted but the future is still questionable.
I really couldn’t understand people like M’s mother. Why did they even give birth to these children? When they spend that money from the pain and suffering of their children, what happened to their conscience? I really don’t get those type of mothers.
I hope to not ever see those types of mothers again.
April 23, 2013
Trac An Nguyen (Onebodyviilage)
Translated into English by Ngan Le