Cambodia: …the Bad and the Ugly

As promised, this is the last post about the negative things I saw in Cambodia, with many beautiful and hopeful posts coming soon about all the great things happening there.  🙂

As I’ve mentioned before (click here to see previous posts), I was a bit surprised to find that Cambodia wasn’t as much like Thailand as I’d expected it to be.  There are a lot of similarities, but I didn’t expect Cambodia to be as underdeveloped as it appeared to me.  After learning about the effects of the Khmer Rouge’s rule on the country in the 70’s, it made more sense to me.  Cambodia has had a lot to overcome.

Below are some photos of some living conditions I was able to see in Phnom Penh.  It is known that some young women from this neighborhood have been sold into prostitution to help earn money for their family.  I was able to see some organizations that are working with people from this exact neighborhood, so that was encouraging.  I’ll be posting about that organization soon.    This web page explains Cambodia’s poverty situation in an understandable way (over 30% of Cambodians live below the poverty line).  The rural areas are even more affected by poverty as their traditional agricultural methods that don’t produce for quick profit.

This is the home of one of the girls being helped by a program that provides training and work for young women at risk of being sold into prostitution.

Another sad part of Cambodia’s story is its high rate of human trafficking.  Last fall, my friend led a book study on the book Not For Sale by David Batstone.  This book is very eye-opening to the problem of present-day human slavery all over the world.  The projects I visited, associated with the Center for Global Impact, and many others are working to fight against this problem.  Specifically in Cambodia, there is a problem with children being sold into prostitution.  Of Cambodia’s 15,000 prostitutes, 35% are under the age of 16 (click here for the source of this statistic and more information).  Here are some of the sights I saw that opened my eyes to this heart-breaking problem.

A sign in my hotel in Siem Reap

Sign from another hotel where I stayed in Battambang

Nighttime in Siem Reap on Pub Street

Pub Street in Siem Reap

One of the “motels” outside Phnom Penh

One of the “motels” outside Phnom Penh

One of the “motels” outside Phnom Penh

One of the karaoke bars near the airport that are known more for the prostitution available in the area than actual karaoke.

A karaoke bar near the airport where the women are lined up in chairs every night, basically a modern day brothel…

So, poverty and young women being sold into prostitution… sorry about the downer post.  However, there’s good news!  Organizations like Center for Global Impact, Hagar International, International Justice Mission, and many others are working to both help prevent and rescue women from this modern day slavery.  Just last night I heard an amazing woman, Somaly Mam, speak here in Indianapolis about her own experience of being sold in Cambodia’s sex trade as a little girl and now she’s helping save and assist in the recovery of thousands of girls.  Learn more about her organization by clicking here or read her book, The Road of Lost Innocence.  Stay tuned for more photos of beautiful Cambodia and the great things going on there.

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