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Pig porters of central Vietnam market

Some 100 women living near a wholesale pig market in Quang Nam Province earn their livelihoods by carrying the animals for buyers and sellers.

A porter’s job is dirty and pays only around VND500 (2 US cents) a pig, and VND1,000 or more for carrying one several hundred meters, but it has been a means of living for women living in the vicinity of Ba Ren (Ms. Ren) market for 50 years now, Lao Dong newspaper quoted them as saying.

Ba Ren, which opened in the 1960s, is located on National Highway 1A, and is one of the biggest markets for pigs in the country, opens at 5 a.m. and closes at around noon.

The women thus have to get ready at 4 a.m., putting on old clothes and preparing a mug of tea to take along.

The market gets nearly 1,000 pigs a day and people look for healthy animals which grow fast and rarely fall sick.

The porters’ job is to transfer the animals from the vendors’ iron cages into bamboo cages for sale, or to carry them to buyers’ cages. Buyers then deliver them as far as the north or south of Vietnam and even to Laos and Cambodia.

The porters said they have to ignore the filthy conditions and carry heavy loads come rain or shine.

They need strong arms to keep the animals from falling, and failing to do so costs them the job, which pays VND40,000 (around US$2) a day at most.

Le Thi Lien, 73, who has spent half of her life carrying pigs there, said the market used to open occasionally, but increased demand has caused it to open more regularly.

Most of the porters have problems with their abdomens caused by having to carry many animals weighing dozens of kilograms in front of their bodies.

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