Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The faces of human trafficking in Southeast Asia

Independent journalist Scott Carrier explores the harsh realities of human trafficking in Cambodia and greater Southeast Asia in his firsthand account, "In a Brothel Atop Street 63." In unflinching and brutal detail, Carrier describes the horrors of modern day slavery and the reasons it exists:

"The causes are said to be exploding populations, increasing power differentials between the rich and the poor, corrupt governments, failed states...and television, which functions like a huge suction machine, a black hole, pulling people away from shrinking farms and into swollen cities. It starts as migration, a children’s crusade for some of that stuff to bring back home. They leave the village and give themselves up to the great sky of luck; they take a chance. And it ends, too often, with young people being bought and consumed and thrown away like a candy bar and its wrapper. And this is also a cause: the desire, the pull for more cheap bodies, whether they are put to work in garment factories and paid 15 cents an hour for 90 hours a week, or thrown onto Thai fishing boats and fed methamphetamines for a few years then shot and thrown overboard, or sold into prostitution or domestic service in Sweden, the United States, or Saudi Arabia. The supply and the demand, the push and the pull, are inseparable."

Heartwrenching and painful to read, Carrier's account presents the issue of trafficking from every side - he even goes inside Cambodian brothels where trafficked girls from Vietnam, all elementary school aged, are held in debt bondage. He interviews a mother who has sold her daughter because the family needed the money, and a man who pay for sex with underage trafficked girls because he believes it has 'healed' him. Though shocking and at times hard to believe, the stories woven together here are excruciatingly real.


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