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Anti-trafficking law creating victims

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the Women's Network for Unity letter to the editor titled "Not all sex workers are victims of trafficking" [in the November 7 edition of The Phnom Penh Post].

My response is: "Not all victims of trafficking; but certainly of poverty, rejection AND the Anti-Trafficking Law".

Firstly, I pay respect to WNU and their long history of work assisting women to stand together for their rights.

I further support WNU's assertion that the implementation of the new anti-trafficking law unfairly targets vulnerable women.

It is a travesty of justice that women are currently being detained for "re-education" on account of "evidence" such as possessing condoms.

In their letter, the Women's Network for Unity objected to Somaly Mam's reference to women who sell sex as "victims", or "slaves because they have to survive".

However, in that same letter the WNU refers to women who make the "tough decision to sell sex rather than to see themselves or their families starve".

Clearly, the choice to sell sex or starve is not much of a choice.

On this basis it seems legitimate to view women forced to sell sex as victims, not to suggest they are weak, but to acknowledge that society has done them wrong.  

It is also possible to support the intention behind the new anti-trafficking law, but decry the way it is being implemented.

Real questions need to be asked about how a law intended to protect vulnerable women and children has actually exacerbated the misery of many.

Luke Bearup

Phnom Penh

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