Not For Sale: Shining Light into the Sexual Darkness-Cambodia and Thailand part 2: The Facts part 2

15 Apr

I am taking one more post to examine some reasons about why the sex trade thrives and why women cannot get out. Then I’ll spend a couple posts on the great things that people are doing to help combat it and produce alternatives for these women.

So back to the story and details of Srey Neang’s life:

Isolation is key for these brothel owners. They feel that if these women can bond together they will begin to scheme about how they can escape. So on a routine basis, owners will switch up roommates and exchange girls with other brothels to keep the environment always changing.

The story takes a turn as it speaks of her escape, which ultimately doesn’t lead to an escape from this lifestyle.

“She decided her best chance (of escape) lay with Yuth, a young man who paid to have sex with her every two weeks. His clockwork schedule could be traced to his job: Each payday Yuth rewarded himself with a visit to the karaoke club….Srey threw caution to the wind and told Yuth the truth of her situation. If Yuth betrayed her to Chuan, she could expect a severe beating. In fact, he would lash a girl for showing anything but pleasure while being raped by a man.”

After a month of planning and two escape attempts she made it and ran off with Yuth and a roomate of hers in the “karaoke” club.

The Roar after the Storm
With the help of a taxi driver she and her friend Mei were now safely away from the owner of the brothel but they entered the same lifestyle. Instead of being sex slaves in a karaoke club they could now be willing prostitutes in a karaoke club free to leave at any time. 30 percent of the money would go to the owner of the club, another 40 for their apartment, another 20 to their taxi-driver friend to be their “pimp” and the remaining 10 percent for them.

“It was not a fair fight. The girls had no place to turn, and the Rooster knew it. The next morning they moved into the apartment, and by that afternoon the girls had started working the tables at the karaoke club.”p54

So if they did not enjoy this lifestyle why did they return to it? The author answers in a section called “The Curse of Womanhood”
-For many of them, their religion says that men are better than women. “The best that they can hope for in this lifetime is to build up enough good karma to be born male in their next life. The reverse logic also holds true: to be born female in this present embodiment suggests that a woman acted sinfully in her previous existence.”
-Honoring parents is another things that holds them back. “Young men of honor are expected to devote a period of their life to a monastery practicing the life of a monk. After fulfilling this religious obligation, males pass along the good karma to their parents and then can move on to become the head of a household. Females, on the other hand, never escape their karmic debt in servitude to their faimily. If a girl does not tend to her parents well, she will face a future of suffering.”

So a young girl who is sold by her family to a brothel may not escape from the brothel because if she does, the owner of the brothel will stop paying her parents. And in that way, she would not be honoring her parents. I found it devastating to read and write those last two sentences. She has been treated by her parents no differently that they would treat a cow but she is handcuffed to this abusive view of religion/honor/family and will not pursue freedom.

Another obstacle is that as discussed before they are “used goods” and no family would let a women like that into the family. This became the case for Srey as she had the good fortune of getting a job in a retaurant and she fell in love with the owners son. When it was found that she was with child and that it was his, they sent her away. Their son, brother, uncle, cousin could never be associated with this women.

This culture like many causes women to suffer because men won’t own up to their responsibility. Srey ends up pregnant and after giving birth is out of money. She leaves the hospital with her child and finds the nearest alley to sleep for the night. She chooses an alley closest to the hospital because she knows that it is only a matter of time before the baby becomes sick. So Srey, because of multiple factors winds up poor, a mother, and with no future. And she lives in a culture that is simply ok with this.

Next post we will look at those who are not ok with this situation and are compelled to do something about it.

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