Often overlooked by more dramatic tales of enslavement in brothels, the trade in virgins is one of the most endemic forms of sexual exploitation in Cambodia. A slum area in Phnom Penh. Dara's mother Rotana sold her virginity when she just 12 years old, after her father died leaving gambling debts. The gardens employ miniskirted young women to sell competing brands of Cambodian beer or to work as hostesses and sing karaoke.
Somaly Mam , a self-styled former sex slave and Cambodia's most famous anti-trafficking campaigner, was forced to resign in disgrace from the US-based foundation that bears her name. Her downfall came after an investigation by a Cambodia Daily reporter revealed that significant parts of the stories she told were untrue. One would not tell her unless she sent a picture and told him her age. He lives in a house share in London - but says his housemates won't be a problem, as we can pretend I'm his girlfriend. Its clients are influential Cambodian men and other members of Asia's elite who enjoy total impunity from a corrupt justice system. She has a better life. Brokers operate underground, changing tactics and locations often. It's such an open secret in Phnom Penh that he is a prolific buyer of virgins that a Cambodian journalist who knows him well offered to introduce me to him. Although all forms of buying and selling sex are illegal in Cambodia , not one Khmer man has ever been convicted of purchasing virgins. Cambodia is far FROM the only place where women and girls are treated as commodities. He bought Chamnan for six days and nights. In fact, when I wrote to the landlords after our meetings to reveal the investigation and ask for their response, only two replied. Vice unit officers say they will investigate any complaints they receive. The shared room section on Craigslist shows almost a dozen current ads from guys in the Metro offering free rent in exchange for something in return. She was allowed to call her mother once a day. In the evenings all over Phnom Penh, the sound of plaintive Khmer love songs leaks into the darkness, feedback and all, from their giant speakers. Uy says the thought of selling Chamnan's virginity hadn't occurred to her until the opportunity arose. Parents who sell their daughters' virginity have little concept of child rights. Uy received cash payment in full, but her planned salon never materialised. When the regime finally dies, she hopes that iniquities such as the virgin trade will die with it. How you would set about proving that prostitution would probably be a little difficult. If you drop cloth, the stain never comes out. The beer gardens are popular with men looking for virgins. Even so, the moment suggested the lack of shame surrounding the practice and how much men like the politician must take their impunity for granted. Dishonesty aside, the greatest pitfall of her fraudulence was not so much that it misrepresented the scale of the problem. The pain was very great. By the time she was allowed to return home her vagina was torn and bruised.
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