It all started when her father died

Written by on October 21, 2009 in Notes By The Way, Vulnerable Children and Families with 3 Comments

A story of how a Cambodian girl was forced into prostitution begins with the following words:

When she was 5, her father died. “After that, my mother changed,” Sreypov says.

I was immediately reminded of a 12 year old girl I met earlier this year. Her father died, and now her mother supports the family by collecting and reselling trash. It’s work reserved for the most desperate people. I learned that this girl had recently considered getting a job at a hostess bar where she could earn a hundred dollars or more a night being a “girl friend” for guys who prefer to think they aren’t hiring prostitutes. My friend, a Cambodian pastor who runs the school that she attends, persuaded her to stay in school. I saw her on my last trip, but I didn’t get an update. I hope they are still enduring.

Read the full article about girls forced into sex slavery in Southeast Asia. Here’s how it begins:

Sreypov Chan, a young Cambodian woman with a feisty laugh and a love of Kelly Clarkson songs, has a recurring dream: She’s being chased by gangsters. They catch her and throw her into a filthy, cockroach-infested room. She knows what will happen next: She will be tortured—whipped with metal cables, locked in a cage, shocked with a loose electrical wire—and then gang raped.

Sreypov has lived this dream.

When she was 7 years old—an age when most girls are going to slumber parties—she was sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, to work as a sex slave. The woman who made the sale: her mother.

About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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  • hannah

    it isn’t a lie at all, its actually very true. I know more about it in India than other countries but a really good movie is “Born into Brothels” which deals with children in a red light district in India. Also, the book “Sold” is the kind of book you can’t read without tearing up. If you get a chance, I really advice looking for them.

  • I’m not sure what you mean by “it isn’t a lie”. If you mean that is really is difficult to get children out of prostitution, much harder than simply swooping in and rescuing them, then I agree with that. I’ve never been involved in that kind of work, but from what little I’ve learned it’s very hard to intervene. Once a child has started working as a prostitute, it’s very difficult. Even many “rescued” girls return.

    I’ve seen Born into Brothels, and it was moving. I’ve also read the critiques of the movie (which you can easily find by starting from it’s Wikipedia entry) to try and better understand the debate I’m alluding to above.

  • hannah

    I do mean that it is difficult to get them out. The book “Sold” romanticizes the whole process a bit, but the edition I have offers further readings on the process. I too have never worked directly with the girls, just through programs through my school that raise money and such for rescued sex workers and child soldiers and such, but I am in school studying to be a teacher in foreign countries so that I can help children get out, and then who get out of these situations. I’m trying to learn as much as I can on this particular subject, as well as similar situations in other countries. I’m well aware that currently thats not helping anyone, but I hope that one day I can do something rather than just read about it.