Like most Vietnamese, Nguyen Thi Dang works hard for her family's wellbeing. But the grandmother of two may never see the children born to her daughter and a Taiwanese man. Mrs Dang says her daughter fled the arranged marriage after being abused by her husband and his family. 'She saw other girls with Taiwanese husbands sending their families a lot of money, so she decided to do the same thing,' Mrs Dang said. 'We didn't have much money, but we never neglected her, my poor daughter.' From the rice fields and shrimp farms of the Mekong Delta, some of Vietnam's poorest families have been seeking this way out of poverty for years, selling what many describe as the country's national treasures. Since 1998, more than 6,000 young women from just one province, Can Tho, have married Taiwanese men, according to the Women's Union, a local communist organisation. 'These marriages are legal, but we're worried that too many women will leave and the young men in this commune won't be able to find a wife,' local official Phan Quang Nam said. Most of the brides are from poor farming families. Women's Union figures show 80 per cent come from households that are heavily in debt. The women have little education and are usually under 25, with about 10 per cent under 18. About a third choose to marry, but 15 per cent are forced into marriages, which often result in domestic violence or divorce. The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), which has been active in efforts to stop the trafficking of women, said that while some marriages were successful, too many were fake and the women were forced into prostitution in Taiwan, China, Cambodia and elsewhere. 'It is said that a virgin bride is top priority; a beautiful one second,' Mr Nam said. The reported price for a Vietnamese bride ranges from US$3,000 (HK$23,400) to US$12,000. The woman's family is paid about US$300 of that sum, with the rest going to the marriage broker. 'They don't want to tell us who helped them find a Taiwanese husband,' a Ho Chi Minh City official who declined to be named said. The director of the city's Family, Marriage, Love Consultation Centre, Minh Nga, said the law should limit the age difference between partners and specify a minimum time they have to know each other before marriage. Vietnamese authorities are trying to control the flow of women into abusive situations. As well as their involvement in international efforts to stop trafficking in women, authorities like the Ho Chi Minh City Department for Mobile Labour Support are pressing for better protection for the brides. Prospective brides are being encouraged to learn the language of their destination country, to get personal information on their suitors and to carry contact details for support networks abroad. In July, the state newspaper Liberated Saigon released figures on the estimated number of Vietnamese brides in Taiwan - about 60,000. At the same time, police released details of a gang bust in which almost 60 women expecting to marry Taiwanese men were rescued. They had been forced to strip naked by men who police said were extortionists.