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Story of a Prostitute

K is an 18 year girl from Cambodia. She was born in Kompong Krabey commune and attended Chrouch Chhmar High School up to grade 9. She has 8 brothers and sisters. Her late father and mother were born in Chrouch Chmmar district, Kompong Cham province and both of them were medicine sellers.

After K’s parents died, her brother and sister had gone to stay with her fourth oldest sister and her husband. They worked as rubber sellers. She and her husband then asked to come to Phnom Penh to look for a job after they had sold rubber at a loss and were in a lot of debt. At first she refused because she wanted to continue her studies and complete secondary school and because she had a boyfriend. Finally she agreed to the request because her sister was crying and she felt pity for her.

When she got to Phonom Penh, her sister sold her to a brothel owner for US$900. The first customer she received was a Malaysian about 45 years old. He took her to his rented house. He could speak a little Khmer. She was afraid of him. She reported that she said something very bad to that man and pushed him away from her body. But the man told her not to be afraid and to stop crying. He wasn’t angry at her attitude, but jumped onto her and embraced her hungrily. She was horrified when her blood came out and was crying loudly. The neighbours heard what had happened. So the man took her back to the brothel owner beat her with electric wire and threatened that her sister would have to pay back her debt if she refused to receive customers.

The next day she was forced to receive another Malaysian client who took her to his house even though she was still suffering a lot. After that she received customers day and night, sometimes as many as 20 a day. Some of them gave her some medicines that looked like sugar grains before they had sex with her and later she felt she wanted to have sex again and again. When she was menstruating, the brothel owner forced and threatened her to take kapok fibre into her anus to prevent menstruated blood while the customer had sex with her. Customers didn’t pity her and when she had a fever or sore eyes, they said ‘at least her anus is OK’.

She said she suffered so much at the brothel. She prayed to be released from her debt. Her sister returned to the brothel and the owner gave her another US$300. About two weeks later her sister returned again to get more money from the brothel owner but this time K didn’t know how much.

She then went to another brothel. She was beaten by the owner who accused her of having sex with drunk customers three or four times when they had only paid for one. She did her best to explain to that the drunk clients took a long time but he never forgave her. One day a client wanted to have sex with her during her menstrual period. He told the brothel owner that she had been unco-operative. She was beaten again. Some customers paid the brothel owner but did not have sex because they felt pity for her.

Although she intended to return home once she had paid off the debt, she could not because sometimes she felt she wanted to have sex with a customer or take medicines (drugs supplied at the brothel). This confused her because she could not control her feelings and led her to become a prostitute voluntarily. She could earn a lot of money and make customers happy. Once she was taken by a customer to visit Malaysia for 8 days. The customers she received were French, Thai, Philippino and Malaysian. She said that she felt happy to have sex with them and was bored when she didn’t. she thought that the job was useful for her because it made her happy, healthy, sleeping comfortably, earning good money and earning well.

She was asked whether she used a condom when she had sex. She replied that sometimes she used a condom because she had heard about it on TV. But when she lived in the brothel, some of the customers didn’t use a condom even if she asked them to. But she didn’t express her concern over this as she could earn money if she had sex with the customer.

Later, she was brought to stay at a centre and she said that: ‘On my first day, I didn’t feel I wanted to stay at the centre and I hated Pa and Mak (staff) and the other girls so much. But after Pa and mak showed their love to me, I knew they were not like the brothel owners. They took me to visit people who were HIV-positive in the hospital. The visit reminded me that something bad had happened to me, I’m afraid of the HIV disease. I feel so much hate for the brothel owner and my sister because I was deceived by them. Now I am worried about my younger sister, To La, who is 14 years and living with my older sister. I often tell Pa and Mak that if someone comes to see me and take me back, please tell them that I’m not here. I have promised that I will learn sewing so that I can work in the factory. I will save my money so that I can bring my young sister to be with me and have a new life’. (UK AIDS NGO Consortium)


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