Cambodia: The Virginity Trade by Watson, Matthew
- Social Interest
- Health Interest
- Political Interest
Cambodia: The Virginity Trade is a compelling and alarming account of the lives of girls and women affected by the virginity trade and sex industry present in Cambodia. The film documents all sides of the nightmarish story of young girls and women. Intimate and revealing interviews are held with the victims, politicians, NGO representatives, the police and last but not least the men who are committing the crimes of buying the virginity of young girls and joining gang rapes.
Especially young girls in rural areas are vulnerable to become a victim of the virginity trade. Due to the very poor living conditions of their families, girls are seen as a commodity. Most of the time, parents or relatives sell the young girls. The film includes interviews with mothers who sold their daughter out of desperation. Nevertheless, if the girl manages to escape the brothel and returns home she faces rejection because her family is ashamed of her.
Cambodian men believe that having sex with a virgin will keep them young and grant them health and luck. From a more practical point of view, they will not contract HIV from a virgin. In case of the girl, once her virginity has been taken, she is sold on to brothels, in different parts of Cambodia or over the border in Thailand. Once in the brothel, she is at high risk of getting a disease and dying young.
In 2008, due to pressure of the United States, Cambodia's authorities were forced into passing anti-trafficking legislation. Sadly, this has taken a wrong turn. The new laws led to closures of hundreds of brothels, though the women were not given shelter but were arrested or ended up in the streets.