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Police probe missing Vietnamese wives

(China Daily)

13:23, August 22, 2011

Yang Jinmei, an abducted woman from Vietnam, says she lives a happy life with her husband Hu Jinfa and their son in Huangshi village, Hunan province. Tan Lihe / for China Daily

BEIJING - Police in Central China's Hunan province said on Saturday they have launched an investigation into missing Vietnamese women - who were bought as wives - in remote villages.

The probe follows media reports that said some husbands of the missing women received phone calls telling them to make ransom payments, or the women would be sold again.

About 100 purchased Vietnamese wives are missing from Hunan's mountainous regions.

Hu Qiulai and Hu Jianhe are from the same remote mountainous village in Shuangfeng county; they lost their wives on the same day.

Two months later, they received phone calls from their wives.

"She sobbed and told me that she was kidnapped and sold to another remote village and needed 20,000 yuan ($3,130) to ransom her back," said Hu Jianhe, who bought the woman for 36,388 yuan in 2008.

The two men reported the case to local police after some hesitation, as the women, who were bought on the Sino-Vietnam border, were not their legal wives.

Hu Gengqing, Hu Jianhe's father, acknowledged that trafficking of women was rampant in his county.

"They were all bought from Yunnan, which borders Vietnam, and the total number (in the county) could be dozens," he said.

There are more males than females in Chinese rural areas, as boys are preferred, so some men in poor regions must resort to buying wives.

Police officers at the public security bureau in Shuangfeng county said the bureau has set up a special team to investigate the reported trafficking and marriage fraud.

The bureau is seeking to ascertain the exact number of missing wives, as many partners may be unwilling to report the cases for fear of being accused of trafficking, they said.

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