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No. 175
January 4th, 2009

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Readers, Please Indulge Me for a Brief “PSA”

My news-reading habits may not be as extensive as, say, Sarah Palin’s, but most days, part of my morning routine is to read the New York Times online, and The Oregonian 2-3 days a week.

I particularly love the Times’ Op-Ed section–my favorites are Tom Friedman and David Brooks, as I may have mentioned before somewhere on this blog, but I usually enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts from Bill Kristol to Bob Herbert (the exception is Paul Krugman, though I read him anyway).

It’s been a busy holiday week for me, so this morning I was catching up on all the columns I’d missed and read these two by Nicholas Kristof. They’re about the sex-slave trade that is still alive and quite well in Cambodia.

I am rarely moved by anything I read these days, numbed by the constant media barrage of crime and corruption, but the stories of the two girls he interviews, Sina Vann and Long Pross, are just shocking and heart-breaking.

A couple of excerpts:

As in many brothels, the torture of choice was electric shocks. Sina would be tied down, doused in water and then prodded with wires running from the 220-volt wall outlet. The jolt causes intense pain, sometimes evacuation of the bladder and bowel — and even unconsciousness.

Shocks fit well into the brothel business model because they cause agonizing pain and terrify the girls without damaging their looks or undermining their market value.

Brothel owners can charge large sums for sex with a virgin, and like many girls, Pross was painfully stitched up so she could be resold as a virgin. In all, the brothel owner sold her virginity four times.

At any rate, I encourage you to read Kristof’s stories, if only to become aware of a terrible institution allowed to persist on the other side of the world. If you’d like to help the sex-slave girls in Cambodia, the Somaly Mam Foundation seemed to me to be a worthy place to donate. If you’re a New York resident, you might write a letter or an email to Gov. Patterson encouraging him to select Carolyn Maloney, a congresswoman who has already stood up in the fight against sex trafficking, to fill Hillary’s senate seat.