Writers and commentators on the sex trade of Southeast Asia sometimes like to refer to the complicity of culture in driving the sex trade. Examples of female self-sacrifice for the good of the family can be found and a case made that not all sex tourism is entirely forced but can instead lie in a shady area created by economic pressure, filial piety and wider societal tolerance of misogyny.
But then there is this.
Sina is Vietnamese but was kidnapped at the age of 13 and taken to Cambodia, where she was drugged. She said she woke up naked and bloody on a bed with a white man – she doesn’t know his nationality – who had purchased her virginity.
After that, she was locked on the upper floors of a nice hotel and offered to Western men and wealthy Cambodians. She said she was beaten ferociously to force her to smile and act seductive… Sina mostly followed instructions and smiled alluringly at men because she would have been beaten if men didn’t choose her. But sometimes she was in such pain that she resisted, and then she said she would be dragged down to a torture chamber in the basement.
“Many of the brothels have these torture chambers,” she said. “They are underground because then the girls’ screams are muffled.”