During my vacation, I was unexpectedly stuck in Phnom Penh while waiting for my stolen passport to be replaced. Upon arriving in the city, my roommate and I didn't have a hotel booked and ended up heading to the closest hostel that seemed decent. Everything about it seemed fine - location was great, rooms were big and clean, owners were helpful - until I woke up in the middle of the night to hear English speaking men making a ruckus with Cambodian women. They were audibly very drunk and in the process of the completing the night by getting the women into their hostel rooms. The next morning, I sat outside my room in order to get a better wireless connection and witnessed one of saddest scenes. The two men where young Americans and they were in the process of paying and sending off the Cambodian prostitutes they had brought back in the night.
The women's eyes were bloodshot and though they laughed and smiled at the men as they said goodbye, the look of emptiness was unmistakable. One girl sat across from me while waiting for her friend and my heart broke for her. I don't know how exactly to describe her expression, but in addition to emptiness, it contained sadness, weariness, and hardness. It was not the face of a woman who liked herself. I felt repulsed by her, but hut for her; however, the real repulsion came when I looked at the men. Deep, deep anger, loathing, and hatred was inside of me. I felt nauseous. A very long string of curses came to mind, but I won't write them down. What misery for all involved. What evil really does exist.
A woman can legally work as a prostitute in Cambodia when she is 18 years old, but many are forced, or sold, into the work. I don't know what these two women's stories were, but bumping into them gave a whole new meaning to the anti-trafficking signs posted all over the country. Many hotels in Phnom Penh specifically state if they are "No Sex Tourism Allowed" locations and I quickly learned to look for such places when booking places to stay the city.
Please take time to watch the following videos. The third one isn't possible to embed, but please take the time to click on the url.
This is the largest form of slavery in our modern world. This evil does exist beyond your computer screen. I've seen it now first hand.