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2012 (Narrative date)

China remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subject to forced labour. There have been a number of media reports exposing cases of forced labour in the country, especially among the disabled whose families are unable to care for them and with an underdeveloped government support system leaving them vulnerable. The disparity of work opportunities between rural and urban populations has created a high migrant population vulnerable to human trafficking. The lure of a higher income leads many migrant workers to accept jobs in China without knowing exactly what they entail.

Lin travelled to China with his friend Trong from Vietnam when he was told he could get housework near the border. He was told his travel expenses, food and accommodation would be taken care of and he would earn a good salary. However, upon arrival he found himself in debt bondage, forced to work long hours under the threat of violence in a brick kiln to pay off his incurred fees. Eventually Lin was able to escape along with his friend Trong, hiding out in a nearby forest to avoid discovery. 

My family works in agriculture, growing corn and rice, that’s what we’ve lived on. Because my family’s situation was so difficult, I had to go out to earn some money to support them.

She told us that working in China would earn from 1000 to 1500 [CNY] per month, and she would cover the travel expenses, also the boss there would take care of food and lodging.

When we arrived there and got off at the station, the owner of a brick factory came to pick us up.

He gave each person 50 [CNY]. Actually that 50 [CNY] was not enough to buy food for one week, because the food there was very expensive and we couldn’t afford it. If the boss didn’t give us the money, we didn’t have any other option, we’d go hungry and wouldn’t be able to work.

We were exhausted at the time but didn’t know what to do, because if we didn’t work, the boss would beat and shout at us. So we were forced to do the work. If we wanted to escape, we couldn’t during the daytime because they watched us very closely. So we couldn’t run away.

In order to escape we couldn’t get out straight away, we had to hide in the forest for a couple of days before we got out. If we left the brick factory and the boss found out, he would drive the car to the station to stop us.

If caught, he’d beat us to death and not show us any mercy or let us go home.

When we got home we shared our story to everyone in the village. However there were some people who didn’t believe us and continued to go there.

You should have a good understanding of the job, before you go for it. But if you’re not sure about a job, you shouldn’t take it.

As told to documentary makers at MTV Exit.