According to an article by Nathalie Rothschild in spiked-online.com:
We all know that there is a big sex industry in south-east Asia. In fact, it often seems that sex is the only thing we hear about in reports from this part of the world as the media peddles salacious stories about ‘sex tourism’, ‘ladyboys’, virgins for sale and girls tricked into prostitution. But in recent years another kind of trade has boomed there: the anti-trafficking industry. And local sex worker rights activists tell me that this industry is a far bigger problem for them than punters looking for sex or company.
It gets better. In fact, I may have to tag this post as “Humor” (I don’t have a “Fucking ridiculous” category).
Today, there are hundreds of non-governmental organisations in Cambodia alone working to ‘rescue and rehabilitate’ sex workers. Local sex-worker representatives even claim that there are more anti-trafficking activists than there are genuine trafficking victims.
The article goes on to discuss that no one knows how many trafficking victims there are in Cambodia despite money spent on studies. Only 12 people were convicted of trafficking crimes in 2009.
The USAID report explained that other organisations and researchers had also failed to establish just how many trafficking victims there are in Cambodia. One of the obstacles identified was that ‘Human trafficking victims may be unaware, unwilling, or unable to acknowledge that they are trafficking victims, so it is difficult to reach them…’
Yeah, there’s nothing worse than an uncooperative victim who refuses to acknowledge their victimhood. How rude.
Andrew Hunter from the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) tells me that there are NGO-run women’s shelters across Cambodia that rely on funding from donors like USAID and that they use ‘lurid stories of sexual abuse to raise money. It’s kind of pornographic in a way – but it seems making up stories of the enslavement and sexual degradation of women raises more funds.’
Wait a sec! Is Mr Hunter questioning the credibility and integrity of the rescue industry? Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit. Who would have thought?
For Andrew, saying that women are unwitting victims – even if they vehemently deny it – is tantamount to denying ‘the idea that women have agency’. (Ironically, the anti-trafficking industry is to a large extent made up of self-described feminists. But feminists have traditionally fought for women to be regarded as autonomous, free-thinking individuals, not as clueless victims.)
I’m beginning to see some forms of feminism as crusade by women to dispel the idea that women have a brain and are capable of actually making decisions. Think about that. If we can’t trust women to control their own bodies, how can we trust them to, you know, vote and help decide the fate of humanity and shit?