Archive for the tag “human rights”

Virginity for sale: Cambodia

Abigail Haworth writes for The Guardian:

Cambodia: Virgin tradeThree years ago, when Vannith Uy arrived in Phnom Penh from the countryside, she wanted to open a hair and beauty salon on proper premises in the Cambodian capital. “But my family could find only dirty jobs,” she says. “I wanted a place where my daughter and I could work together.” So Uy did something she describes as her “only choice”: she sold her 18-year-old daughter Chamnan’s virginity to a wealthy local man for £900.

The man was a police general who frequented the beer garden where Uy worked as a kitchen help, she says. He bought Chamnan for six days and nights. He installed her in a hotel room on Phnom Penh’s outskirts and visited her many times to have sex. She was allowed to call her mother once a day. By the third day, Uy recalls, Chamnan was so weak and distressed that the man summoned a doctor on his payroll to give her painkillers and a vitamin shot “so she had the strength to keep going until the end of the week”.

Uy received cash payment in full, but her planned salon never materialised. The money that had represented a life-changing sum – equivalent to around five years’ salary in her home village in Kandal province – soon trickled away. After she’d paid her sick husband’s medical bills, given cash to her ageing parents and bought Chamnan a gold necklace to “raise her spirits”, there wasn’t much left. Uy had greatly underestimated the task of clawing her way out of hardship; her stricken expression as she talks suggests she also miscalculated the personal costs of selling her daughter’s body to try.

Where to begin unravelling the shadowy, painful layers of Uy and Chamnan’s story? It is not straightforward. Often overlooked by more dramatic tales of enslavement in brothels, the trade in virgins is one of the most endemic forms of sexual exploitation in Cambodia. It is a market sustained by severe poverty and ingrained gender inequality. Its clients are influential Cambodian men and other members of Asia’s elite who enjoy total impunity from a corrupt justice system. Most misunderstood of all, many of those involved in the transactions are not hardcore criminals. They are mothers, fathers, friends and neighbours.

Cambodia is far from the only place where women and girls are treated as commodities. But in this country of 15 million people, the demand for virgins is big business that thrives due to cultural myth and other local factors. “Many Asian men, especially those over 50, believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and ward off illness,” says Chhiv Kek Pung, president of Cambodia’s leading human rights organisation, Licadho. “There’s a steady supply of destitute families for the trade to prey on here, and the rule of law is very weak.”

Read the rest of this revealing article by clicking here.

Labor camps instead of justice

chinaDavid McKenzie writes at CNN.com:

Liu Xiuzhi’s story begins, like many legal battles in China, over a property dispute with a powerful neighbor.

She says that when she won a civil case against the neighbor, he sent thugs to beat her up. They left her unconscious, several teeth knocked out of her lower jaw. At first, complaints to the local police were met with indifference, she says. Then anger.

So Liu started to petition. Following a centuries old tradition that started in dynastic China, Liu tried to take her grievances to local and national authorities. She says all she received was more beatings and humiliations.

“We are powerless people in China,” she says. “Either you have money in China and you have power or you are poor and you have none. I followed the law and I had to suffer.”

Over time, her petitioning became more overtly political. She started to display signs with slogans like “power and money rules in China” and “in China there is no justice and no equality.”

McKenzie goes on to say that China’s state security finally lost its patience with Liu’s campaigning and charged her under a provision for “hooliganism, prostitution, theft and fraud” that landed her in the Xi An Re-education Through Labor Jail in southern Beijing. The “re-education” system allows state security agents to arrest offenders for up to four years without trial. The government admits tens of thousands of prisoners are held in those centers. At least some of them are political dissidents.

Ben Booker points out at BreakPoint that those dissidents include Christian prisoners of conscience and that a movement to reform China’s labor camps is growing:

Christianity can be a major boon to this effort. By advocating the self-worth of individuals and the importance of love and justice, the Church can be a boon to humanitarian efforts to correct for this grave injustice. The prospect is terrifying though. Chinese Christians face daily persecutions for their beliefs and may even find themselves in these re-education camps. On strict political terms, the advantage lies with the government. They hold political authority and the backing of the police and military establishment. That does not mean Christians should shy away from engaging in the political discussion, but it does present its own set of challenges that are not faced as readily by people in Western states. However, the Church is not limited to political confrontation to rectify these grave injustices brought forth on China. Rather, ministry is an avenue to social change.

Chinese Christians (I should say Christians in general) can combat injustices through evangelizing and spreading the gospel to others. The fields of social justice and evangelism can too often be separated in the minds of Christians (myself included) but where can true, lasting social justice come from beside the life-giving power of the gospel? The gospel changes the mindset from one focused on self-aggrandizement typified through the lust for power and control that the Chinese government has exhibited through its labor camps to one of sacrificial service in the name of Jesus’ glorification. Through this, real change can take hold as the principles that have shaped law and policy come to reflect Jesus’ ideas of grace and peace. These changes can be slow because it is a person by person effort, but it is rewarding since it imparts lasting change to individuals. These spiritually touched people can reform the content, character, and, most importantly, practice of the law.

This all seems far off to Christians here in the U.S., but the body of Christ must grieve with those who suffer, especially fellow Christians. This is not something to glibly sweep under the rug and believe it does not exist. It is happening, it is wrong, and something must be done.

Read the full text of McKenzie’s article by clicking here.
Read the full text of Booker’s article  by clicking here.

Students ‘Stand for Freedom’

Ann Hardie writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

In January 2012, Dustin Hsu’s worldview forever changed after crossing paths with people from International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation and slavery.

“Hearing stories of families working countless hours in brick factories and young girls routinely raped and sold for sex affected me like nothing before,” said Hsu, a senior majoring in industrial engineering at Georgia Tech and president of Tech’s chapter of the International Justice Mission.

Read about Tech’s 27-hour “Stand for Freedom” event in the AJC Q&A with Dustin and in Tech’s student newspaper.
Make a difference for people oppressed by human trafficking through IJM.

Georgia Tech students, led by Dustin Hsu (center right), Stand for Freedom. (Photo: Lauren Brett)

Georgia Tech students, led by Dustin Hsu (center right), Stand for Freedom. (Photo: Lauren Brett)

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: