Friday, October 9, 2009

No Thanks, I'm Not a Sex Tourist'

A sex worker in Phnom Penh. Credit: UNAIDS/S. Noorani

And yet, how I ended up doing a bit of business with a Cambodian prostitute.

9 Oct 2009
By Luke T. Johnson

It was not my intention to pay for the services of a prostitute in Cambodia. But it was the least I could do.

My dalliance with that young woman at dawn was spontaneous, infinitely relieving and wholly chaste. It capped, for me, a vicarious romp through the Southeast Asian nation's booming sex industry, a first-hand look at the desperation born out of decades of corruption and suffering.

Hardship and human trafficking

Cambodia can be a very grim place. It was carpet bombed by the United States during the Vietnam War, followed by genocide led by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979. The latter atrocity killed nearly 2 million Cambodians -- nearly a quarter of the population. Today about half of the population of 14 million is under 20 years old.

The last three decades have seen Cambodia claw its way back to some sort of normalcy. Transparency International still ranks it as one of the world's most corrupt nations, but that hasn't kept the tourists out. With the magnificent Angkor Wat complex of temples in the north and miles of pristine beaches in the south, Cambodia has seen an increasing number of visitors in the past 10 years as tourism has become a pillar of the country's meager economy.

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