Vietnam: Bui Thi Dung

It is extremely depressing to be trafficked to a foreign country. Even if you flee back to your homeland, you will be depressed. I hate women traffickers.

— Bui Thi Dung

Bui Thi Dung (born 1959) was trafficked to China in 1991, but fled back to her homeland in 1992. She heads a "returned women" group - also called 3T Group (which stands for voluntary, self-reliant and confident) – established in 1997, a project of the Institute of Youth Studies and the Research Center for Gender and Development to help victims of trafficking integrate into the community. Ignoring other people’s contempt, Dung and her group borrowed money to start a business. They are now well-off and help the authorities educate young girls on how to avoid the traps laid by traffickers.

Bui Thi Dung is a shining example to the members of the Hop Thanh commune in Cao Loc district, Lang Son province, of how disadvantaged women can return to society and make a good living. Sold to prostitution in China and returning empty-handed and in disgrace, Dung, a small, brave woman who refused to give in to her fate, managed to escape from poverty and assist others like herself to regain their happiness and self-respect. It was very difficult for her to come home to Vietnam where she was disdained by her relatives and the rest of her community for having been a prostitute. But she persisted for the sake of her husband and children, to whom she is deeply dedicated. She joined a group of "returned women" organized by Hanoi University, where she was able to help herself and other former prostitutes to overcome their difficulties and integrate into the community. By sharing their knowledge of the tricks used by traffickers and the traps they lay for their victims, her group was able to change the community’s negative attitudes towards former prostitutes. Bui Thi Dung led the way for the other women in her group by encouraging them to borrow money to start their own businesses. Borrowing one million Dong, she bought a couple of pigs for fattening. After selling the first two, she bought more pigs until the business grew. Dung and her family are now well-off. An industrious, tender and responsible woman, Bui Thi Dung wants to make a better world for everybody, particularly women like herself who, she says, deserve sympathy and assistance from the community.

3T Group of Hop Thanh commune