Since the promulgation of Taiwan’s Human Trafficking Prevention Act by the president on January 23, 2009, it seems that human trafficking problem in Taiwan has seen significant improvement. Is that really the case? The formulation of the law and the advancement of the fight against human trafficking must be attributed to the long-term efforts of non-governmental organizations.
Father Peter Nguyen Van Hung is from Vietnam. He is recognized by the US State Department as the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Hero for "acting to end modern slavery". He found that a large number of migrant workers were detained in Hsinchu and Sanxia foreigner shelters in the early days. Then he noticed that many Vietnamese spouses were tricked into prostitution, so he started to question if these are just individual cases. Or are they systematic issues? So he began to look into the matter of human trafficking, and noticed that cases of human trafficking reported internationally are similar to what these migrant workers experienced in Taiwan.
At that time, through the hands of unscrupulous brokers, photos and information of many Vietnamese women were advertised on eBay. Even advertisements of scantily clad Vietnamese women were aired on TV and posted on the streets. Labor exploitation of this sort existed everywhere. In order to draw the public’s attention to this issue, Father Nguyen then visited the U.S. State Department and invited them to Taiwan to discuss labor exploitation with Taiwan’s NGOs and work them to facilitate the adoption of "Human Trafficking Prevention Act". However, exploitation goes on, only morphed into different forms like brokerage fees and kickbacks. Migrant workers also had limited, if any, access to resources needed and ways to seek help. These migrant workers are also human beings made of flesh and blood, but they are stripped of dignity and freedom as they are exploited for their labor. We need to recognize this prevailing condition and work together with the public to combat exploitation by informing them the situation.
Peter Nguyen Van Hung, Director of Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Immigrants Office of the Catholic Church's Hsinchu Diocese
Father Peter Nguyen Van Hung fled Vietnam in 1979. After 36 hours of drifting on the high seas, he was rescued by a ship flying Norwegian flag and sent to a refugee camp in Japan. During his stay in Japan, he did odd jobs like pavement and smith works and experienced discrimination, exploitation and all kinds of unfair treatment. Having experienced all these, he came to Taiwan and frequently witnessed new immigrants and migrant workers suffering exploitation and deception as a result of language barrier and an unfair system. He first assisted Vietnamese interns exploited and abused in factories in Taiwan seeking justice in 1988 and established Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office (VMWBO, and later Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Immigrants Office, VMWIO) in 2004, helping Vietnamese migrant workers and new immigrants seek justice through legal channels. He also works with multiple NGOs in Taiwan, holding press conferences of all sizes to seek public awareness of human rights issues of migrant workers and new immigrants. He advocates for the government to formulate more reasonable laws and policies, improve the working environment, and end human trafficking. Finally in 2009, with efforts from all sides, Human Trafficking Prevention Act passed the third reading and was adopted.