A third of Cambodians live on less than a dollar a day, economic mobility is limited and shark loans are rampant. Many families have been resorting to prostituting their young daughters out of financial desperation. Often times, brokers—themselves once victims of sex trade—would convince mothers to sell their virgin daughters. Debt-stricken and living below the poverty line, thousands of Cambodian girls are sold by their own mothers to be deflowered.
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Sokha hides a dark past from her childhood that still haunts her to this day.
V annith Uy is the owner of what translates from Khmer as a "mobile nail salon", although the word salon is a stretch. Three years ago, when she arrived from the countryside, Uy had a different plan. She wanted to open a hair and beauty salon on proper premises in the Cambodian capital. The man was a police general who frequented the beer garden where Uy worked as a kitchen help, she says. He bought Chamnan for six days and nights. She was allowed to call her mother once a day. Uy received cash payment in full, but her planned salon never materialised. The money that had represented a life-changing sum — equivalent to around five years' salary in her home village in Kandal province — soon trickled away. Uy had greatly underestimated the task of clawing her way out of hardship; her stricken expression as she talks suggests she also miscalculated the personal costs of selling her daughter's body to try. Where to begin unravelling the shadowy, painful layers of Uy and Chamnan's story?
Cambodian girls and teens are forced to give up their virginity to clients. At the same time, this loss will make it nearly impossible for them to marry. Culturally, there is a double standard of behavior for men and women. Today, 1 in 3 Cambodians lives on less than 50 cents a day. The country is vulnerable to profiteers and pedophiles. The majority of demands for under-aged girls is fueled by Cambodians themselves. Most women accept that their husbands visit prostitutes regularly. Cambodia has a "law for women" that governs their behavior.
She has a lap dog named Chica, and her own car that she bought herself. But behind her seemingly charmed life, Sokha hides a dark past from her childhood that still haunts her to this day. Sokha grew up in a poor village near Phnom Penh, the capital city. She said she was just 7 years old when she was sold for sex to an American man named Michael Joseph Pepe, a former U. Marine, who was then living as an ex-pat in Phnom Penh. She did not know why he had come to Cambodia to buy a child like her for sex. At one point, a man could be heard asking for a year-old girl. Another asks for a year-old, while another said he would take an 8-year-old. The video was shot over the last two years by Agape International Missions, or AIM, an organization dedicated to fighting child sex trafficking in Cambodia.