Lai Chau is an area with many victims of cross-border human trafficking. The victims of human trafficking are mainly people in remote and isolated areas. Most of them live in difficult circumstances, lack knowledge and life skills, and believe in the promise of stable jobs and high incomes when someone reaches out to them.
Thanks to the Em Vui platform, adolescents are informed on the risks of human trafficking and equiped with necessary knowledge and skills for prevention and rescue.
Human traffickers use common tricks such as taking advantage of social networks to make friends with potential victims, get acquainted, pretend to be in love, or act as brokers for illegal foreign marriages. With these tricks, they sell many young girls to restaurants, karaoke bars or into prostitution and forced labour organisations.
Human traffickers are getting more sophisticated – using high tech methods such as mobile phones and social media accounts to target young girls in remote mountainous areas, mostly teen girls between 15-16 years old who are not well-educated, have limited social awareness and live in precarious circumstances. Most households in Lai Chau province own mobile phones. Criminals take advantage of this to approach girls online instead of showing up at the commune and talking to the potential victims.
Trafficked many times
T. is a young girl who lives in Lai Chau province, one of the areas of intervention where the project was implemented. She left her family in September 2022 to find a job in Hanoi. Her family was very worried, they did not know where she was and could not contact her. Due to the poor situation of her family, T. was surfing on Facebook to seek a job to support her family. She met a stranger online who offered her a dishwashing job in a restaurant in Hanoi with a good salary.
The reality was different. As soon as she arrived in Hanoi, T. was sent to a karaoke bar to work as a waitress instead. She was moved from one karaoke bar to another during months. She was very scared to be sold elsewhere again, and remembered her friends telling her about the Em Vui platform, created by the EU-funded project EMPoWR, and the various ways to seek help from authorities.
On May 17, 2023, taking advantage of the Karaoke shop owner's absence, she stole a phone, found the Facebook page of the Lai Chau Provincial Police and sent them a message to seek help. Below is the translation of part of the conversation:
Survivor: I am staying in Thai Nguyen province. My name is T.
Policeman: How were you trafficked? Please tell your case from the beginning again.
Survivor: I was tricked into being trafficked as a servant for a karaoke bar. Now I want to go home but that’s impossible.
Policeman: Where is that karaoke bar exactly? Where are you from?
Survivor: I was isolated. The bar is in Trang commune, Vo Nhai district, Thai Nguyen province. I am from Lai Chau province.
Policeman: Are you in debt with them?
Survivor: No, I am not.
Policeman: Which commune are you from?
Survivor: I am from L. commune, Lai Chau province
After capturing the situation, the provincial police encouraged her to stay calm. The policeman instructed her how to send her location as well as mark symbols on the wall of the house for easy identification and rescue by the authorities. At the same time, the policeman reported to the Provincial Police Directorate to share the situation with the Criminal Police Department, for the Provincial Police to coordinate. On 18 May 2023, the girl was rescued and taken back to her home the next day.
Thanks to the Em Vui Platform, the knowledge acquired on Em Vui and shared by her friend, T. managed to keep calm and seek the necessary assistance to escape from human trafficking and be back in her community. Through her friends that were regular users of Em Vui, she heard about the available help of public security of Lai Chau province and was able to seek it.
Em Vui sensitizes adolescents on the risks of human trafficking and equips them with necessary knowledge and skills for prevention and rescue e.g. through animated videos and the series 'The Journey of Mi'.
The web-application of the Em Vui Girls’ Rights Platform was developed to align with the low capacity and limited data of smartphones of the final beneficiaries who are ethnic minority children, adolescents and youth (CAY). The local name of the GRP is Em Vui (EM = Ethnic Minority in English and Vui = be fun, fantasy, excited, happy in Vietnamese).
To make the Em Vui web app more interactive and bring it closer to EM CAY, the content and information is also shared through 6 social media channels with the recognisable icon of EM VUI, including Facebook, Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, Zalo and Twitter.