By Elayne Clift | Special to Vermont Guardian
posted November 25, 2005
CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Even paradise has its seedy side, a fact that comes through clearly in Louise Brown’s important book, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (Virago, 2000). Examining the region’s sex trade and shedding light on its abuses and exploitations, Brown’s book is a wake-up call and a condemnation. But mostly it is a chronicle of commodification, filled with very sad stories about the lives of innocent girls and women forced to sell their bodies as if they were just so much meat.
Trafficking and sexual slavery aren’t new. Nor are they such overlooked or ignored issues anymore. The women’s movement, the courage of Korean “comfort women” who told their stories, and the AIDS crisis are just some of the reasons that trafficking is out of the closet. But the selling of women for a burgeoning sex trade remains a growing problem, often overtaking domestic violence and sexual abuse as the number one issue for activists internationally.
In countries like Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, and Cambodia, the Philippines, Nepal, and India, mainly poor, uneducated girls — children, really — are lured from their homes, sold by their parents, lied to by the people they trust. They end up as little more than indentured slaves in brothels before they know what happened to them. Their stories break your heart and make you wonder how anyone could be so base as to sell a wife, a sister, a daughter into sexual servitude.
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