Page 14 - Robins Kaplan 2017
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PANIYA
PANIYA HAD ENDURED A TYPE OF POVERTY THAT MOST
WHEN PANIYA ARRIVED AT THE MEETING SPOT IN MAY 2006 TO FIND A PORTLY 43-YEAR-OLD MAN,
A HERO EMERGED.
   HER MOTHER WAS MURDERED. HER BODY WAS DISMEMBERED
MOTHER MISSING, FATHER A SUSPECT.
A FAMILY
 She became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter the following February, when she was 15 years old. Vang eventually moved to Minnesota with her daughter and mother on an asylum visa obtained by her father.
Speaking out against child marriage and drawing attention to child sex tourism came with great social consequences, including ostracization. Despite these risks to herself and her family, in 2015, Vang sued Prataya in federal court under Masha’s Law, using her full name on public filings. Masha’s Law allows for the prosecution of any U.S. citizen who uses his or her passport to go to another country and rape a child, regardless of the original intention of the trip.
This was believed to be the first lawsuit using Masha’s Law to recover monetary damages from child sex tourism. “At that point, we were unaware of any civil case tried on behalf of a victim of sexual tourism in federal court,” Arenz says. “It was an important case, and there were a lot of challenges. We had to prove something that happened 12 years earlier in a foreign country. There were no police reports, no cell records. In the end, it came down to Paniya’s story.” The lawsuit made national headlines, raising awareness of the practice of child sex trafficking and child ceremonial marriage. It garnered the support of many Hmong groups and advocacy organizations, and was criticized by others.
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