I am writing in response to the letter by Chansokhy Anhaouy titled "Prostitution has no place in Kingdom of Wonder" (July 30, 2009).
There are a number of items I would like to address in this letter, but I will do so while keeping in mind that Chansokhy lives in Vancouver and does not see the extreme poverty and other conditions in Cambodia that constrain the job options women have.
Chansokhy begins her letter by stating that she is tired of the argument that sex workers are human beings whose life circumstances have brought them to sex work. All people are influenced by their surroundings and situations. People who choose to become sex workers are not lesser humans, and they should not be frowned upon or degraded. Sex workers risk their bodies and lives for the livelihood of their families and themselves, which shows personal strength and resilience beyond anything I can imagine.
Chansokhy goes on to compare sex workers and drug users to human traffickers. She could not be more off base. First of all, drug users are completely unrelated to any other part of her rant, and she assumedly threw them in to further her bullying of marginalised populations. If she had actually comprehended the article in question she would understand that sex workers want to work to end trafficking, but their progress is being hindered by uncooperative law enforcement officials - the same law enforcement officials she praises throughout her letter.
Had Chansokhy done any background research on the 2008 Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, she would see that it has been a failure, and that the enforcement of it has had nothing to do with arresting actual human traffickers. Her premature and uninformed pride in law enforcement compels me to question the validity of any of her statements, especially her view that I, along with the Cambodian Alliance for Combating HIV/AIDS and the Women's Network for Unity, promote sex, drugs and pornography. This is insidious.
Finally, her closing argument that less prostitution will create less trafficking is the most illogical thing I have ever heard. If sex work were banished, the demand for sex workers would still be there, thus prompting the trafficking industry to scale up.
I suggest that in the future Chansokhy comments only on things she is knowledgeable about and leaves the work in Cambodia to people familiar with the situation in Cambodia.
Asia Pacific Network for Sex Workers
Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author's and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.