I am writing in response to the recent prostitution debate between Chansokhy Anhaouy and Sara Bradford.
Balancing the protection of national culture with the right to live is a discussion that will continue for hundreds of years.
Prostitution is not part of Cambodian tradition, which emphasises family values and the importance of preserving virginity. The high cost of living in Cambodia, however, raises the question: What alternatives are there for the poor and unemployed?
I spend less than US$50 a year on medical expenses in Canada and France, but my neighbours, relatives and friends in Cambodia have to pay thousands of dollars in the event of a medical emergency or accident.
School exams in Canada and France are free, but in Cambodia they can cost high school students hundreds of dollars every year if those students need extra classes to get a good grade.
The cost of a passport is less than $60 in many rich countries, where they last 10 years and have many pages. In Cambodia, a passport costs $125 and has to be renewed after three years.
Cambodia has $4 billion in foreign debts, dwindling exports and poor infrastructure, and more than 70 percent of people earn less than $2 per day. At the same time, some government officials have more than five luxury cars.
Cambodian women, however, receive little education and are often discriminated against in the workplace and socially. As a conservative Cambodian woman, I don't support prostitution, but we must find more ways of providing food, shelter, health care, education and job opportunities for poor people before punishing them further.
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The views expressed above are solely the author's and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.