Today’s installment of Exploits in International Woman Trafficking comes to Twisty HQ from VietnamNet Bridge, which is running a story with this headline: “Vietnamese women for sale: Malaysian people upset.”
The story so far (I have pieced it together from this, this, this, and this): Malaysian “marriage brokers” import Vietnamese women and sell them to men for private exploitation as wife-slaves. In one version of the story, the Malaysian wife-shopper picks out a live woman, pays the broker, and takes her home like a used car. In another version, the brokers turn out to be “confidence men” (as opposed, I guess, to regular pimps). They lure the women by promising to use part of their purchase price (between $5000 and $8000) to pay the women’s families a “dowry”. Naturally the dowry payment never shows up, and the cycle of oppression is complete: the john has a permanent whore, the trafficker absconds with $5000, and the woman who sells herself hasn’t even the paltry satisfaction of knowing that her suffering has mitigated her family’s dire poverty.
According to the Vietnamese Ambassador to Malaysia, Malaysian people are “upset” because “they don’t agree with the trading of women as commodities.”* See what a small world it is! Just like here in the US, in Malaysia, too, pious hypocrite bureaucrats talking to reporters try to morally elevate themselves and flatter their cronies by pretending they all give a crap about the poor fallen women. But wait — when asked what might be done to stop the sex trade, the Ambassador reveals his true colors. “We will interfere so that this won’t happen any more, as it will make people think ill of Vietnamese women in particular and Vietnam in general.”
Not, in other words, because sexploitation injures women, but because the whole country loses face when newspaper articles start telling of citizens whose circumstances are so egregiously reduced that they would sell themselves as servile receptacles to complete strangers in a foreign country for the price of a used Hyundai. It won’t do to have the world thinking of Vietnam as Earth’s Whorehouse.
The Ambassador neglects to explain just how he plans to keep men from buying women in the middle of a big fuckin patriarchy. However, should the Ambassador ever manage to actually make good on his vow to terminate the Vietnamese wife market, feel free to color me dumbfounded.
* Odd, since marriage brokerages are completely legal, licensed businesses in Malaysia.