Sunday, October 04, 2015

The ‘open secret’ of abused Hmong child brides goes public in Minnesota lawsuit

By Yanan Wang September 28, WashPost

Everyone knows about these men, but few dare speak out against them, least of all the women who have been harmed. Those who do are swiftly admonished for questioning “the way things have always been” — or worse, confronted with physical retaliation and separated from their families. Death threats are not unusual.

Having grown up among the Hmong in St. Paul, it was in the early 2000s that Sia Her began noticing adolescent girls on the arms of Hmong American men who were 20, 30, sometimes even 40 years their senior. She saw these couples walking around in the community’s market places, where DVDs containing suggestive photos of young Hmong women are sold by the thousands. Though she heard through the grapevine that many of these young wives suffered abuse, Her said, they rarely spoke openly about their experiences.

Now, one Hmong woman is refusing to stay quiet about her allegations. In an unprecedented federal lawsuit first reported by the Star Tribune, Panyia Vang, 22, is seeking $450,000 from the American citizen who allegedly raped and impregnated her before binding her to a traditional Hmong marriage. She has gone fully public, name and all, in the suit, which was originally filed in 2012. And her lawyer, who is now seeking a summary judgement in Vang’s favor, agreed to the use of her name in The Washington Post, which ordinarily does not identify victims of alleged sexual abuse.

When a 14-year-old Vang received an invitation to go to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, she believed she was auditioning for a music video.

(More here.)

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