Unmoderated chan s - Cambodian sex workers

Most of the girls were working in the bars out of their own free will (to the extent that anyone does in Cambodia or beyond); their sexual decisions weren't controlled by bosses or managers and the women could decide themselves whether or not they wanted to 'go with customers'; and the majority did not actually identify as sex workers, or view their quest for foreign boyfriends as 'work.' They viewed themselves as 'bartenders,' 'bar girls,' or 'bar maids,' and viewed most of the sexual partners that they meet in the bars as 'real' boyfriends.

DHS: Did you spend much time in the bars, and what happens on a typical night?

Cambodian sex workers-79Cambodian sex workers-27

” The cop responds that they will first be brought to the “anti-trafficking department,” then on to the unfortunately named “re-education training department.”And now we have arrived at what Alvi tells us is the “crux” of Cambodia’s anti-trafficking program.

According to Alvi, arrested sex workers are given a binary, perhaps even Sophie-like choice: keep their freedom and accept training for a new career; or, remain in custody “indefinitely” and be subject to abuse and shakedowns by corrupt police.

In anecdotal reports, sex workers claim that they are only minimally retrained for low-wage jobs, similarly, “rescued” workers have been reported that it is common to be deprived of several months wages, ostensibly for the privilege of being trained in their new occupation.

Despite coming under physical attack from state actors for their protests and activism, WNU are highly committed to exposing the relationship between garment factories, and the criminalisation of sex work.

Women’s Network for Unity (WNU) is gender diverse sex worker network based in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Phen.

Founded in 2002, WNU is a grassroots collective of 6,400 members whose purpose primarily involves working on behalf of sex workers to advocate for: access to social services; freedom from violence and discrimination; and for sex workers to empower themselves to advocate for access to social justice, against abuse from state actors, and to challenge the rhetoric around sex work, particularly that concerned with the anti-trafficking movement and the “rehabilitation” of sex workers.

HH: I'm a little embarrassed to admit that when I first went to Cambodia back in 2003, I was filled with all the naïve assumptions and western biases that many people have when they first get there: all the girls are 'trapped' in the bars; they have little decision-making power; they are controlled by bosses and managers; they are all sex workers who are commercially available and negotiable for sex upon any request; and every inter-ethnic couple (Cambodian woman/western man) were commercially-based.

Well, I had to confront all those assumptions pretty quickly, because when I got there in 2005 to start formal academic research, I learned right away that something quite different was going on.

S., the government initiated an “aggressive” anti-trafficking and prostitution campaign.

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