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Girl tells of brothel ordeal

Girl tells of brothel ordeal

A 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped and forced to work as a sex slave in Phnom

Penh's Toul Kok red light district, broke down in tears as she told how she was

whipped and tortured by cruel brothel owners.

Kiev Smey, who was

kidnapped in January from outside her home in Dong Tung district, Kampot

province, cried as she told how she was sold into the "piglet business", the

trading of virgins.

"The man who kidnapped me sold me to a Khmer-Chinese

man for $600 and after a week, I was sold for 400,000 riels to a brothel, owned

by a woman called Mrs Touch," said Smey at a tearful reunion with her

brother.

"I hated working there. One of my friends who was caught trying

to escape was whipped with electric cable and burned on the face with a lit

cigarette by the woman who owned the brothel," said Smey who was rescued from

the brothel by a motorbike driver.

"The owner asked all the girls to whip

her and made her an example of what would happen if girls tried to escape. When

I refused to hurt my friend I was beaten with electric cable as well," said the

teenager.

Smey's ordeal started when she was grabbed by a man while she

was shopping at a small market near her home.

"I didn't know a man was

following me until he grabbed me from behind and pushed me into a nearby

car.

"I can't remember what happened next, but when I woke up I was in a

house in Phnom Penh with three men and a woman."

Smey told how she and

the other prostitutes were forced to sit outside the front of the brothel for up

to 12 hours a day and were under constant surveillance by guards.

"We

could not even go to the toilet without one of the bouncers following us to make

sure we didn't escape.

"New girls were told they had to smile all the

time and do anything to please the customer. Any girl who didn't smile was

beaten or raped by the bouncers. Girls who did not bring in good profits were

sold into brothels."

However, Smey's luck changed when she was spotted

sitting outside the front of the brothel by a local motorbike

driver.

"She looked so young and unhappy and reminded me of one of my own

relatives," said the motorbike driver, who refused to give his name.

"I

decided there and then that I would help her escape and started planning how I

could kidnap her," said the driver who whisked Smey to safety on his motorbike

after being chased by two bouncers.

With Aids spreading throughout

Southeast Asia, demand for virgins is increasing making the "piglet" business

very lucrative, said Serey Phal, president of the Cambodian Women's Development

Association (CWDA).

According to CWDA research, it is possible to buy a

virgin on the black market for between 5 chis and 2 domlung ($250 to $700) of

gold in Cambodia, but the going prices for girls across the border in Thailand

are a lot higher and range from $500 to $1,200.

Phal complained that her

NGO did not have the power to help victims of the sex trade.

"Before we

can do anything we need the authorities to back us up," said Phal.

"We

used to ask the police to help, but they were also just as powerless because the

government did not take proper action against prostitution.

"Most

authorities, especially the police, need formal complaints signed by the girl's

parents and the local authorities, filed before they can take action.

Phal said since 1992 the CWDA had rescued six girls under the age of 18

age after they had been forced to work in brothels.

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