Cambodian sex slaves
After the dismantlement of the State of Cambodia, about 20,000 male troops and civilian personnel of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) (1992–1993) arrived in Cambodia together with many NGOs and business interests from abroad, creating a new market for sexual services in a very poor country.
UNTAC did little to stem the growth of prostitution in the country.
Once inside they tell the sex workers that they can escape, with the help of the foundation and the police. Many have been enslaved in the sex trade for so long, they don’t know how to function in the outside world; they wonder how they would support themselves.
The activists tell them they can learn a trade, such as sewing or hairdressing, at the shelters.
Under the new State of Cambodia (1979–1993) commercial sex started to re-emerge.
SHE remembers a home that looked fancy on the outside but ominous on the inside, a dark maze of bare chambers. Her name is Sreypich Loch, and she was a slave in a Cambodian brothel. Loch, now around 20 years old, managed to escape that world and works today to rescue other girls.
She remembers the parade of men, day by day, forcing her to have sex. If she refused sex, she says, she would be beaten, shocked with an electric cord, denied food and water. She helps grab them out of brothels, and she hosts a radio show in Phnom Penh, giving the girls a forum for their stories.
In 2010 she joined an offshoot of Mam’s foundation called Voices for Change, a group of young slavery survivors who rescue girls from brothels.
The activists gain access to the brothels by bringing supplies such as soap and condoms.
Her stepfather raped her, she says, when she was around seven years old. She would be raped again that year, by a stranger who snatched her from the street. “I wanted to die.” That might have indeed been her fate if a woman hadn’t come along, offering to help.