[fromGuardian Weekly, Friday 3 July 2009 09.00 BST]
In March 2008, Cambodia saw the implementation of a new law entitled: Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. Aimed at offering protection to women in prostitution by making the selling of sex illegal, it has resulted in clean-up operations and police raids of red light areas. Women in prostitution are being arrested, reporting police brutality and imprisonment. It’s also resulted in decreased safety for women as brothels are closed down and women are forced into street work. Mei, a young prostitute in Phnom Penh, describes how she fell into prostitution and the horrific experiences she has had as a result of the new law
My name is Mei and I’m 19 years old. I live in Phnom Penh but I’m from a small village in Prey Veng province. I went to school when I was younger, but I had to leave to work in the rice fields when I was 13. My family is poor and when there is no food to eat, you have to do what you must to support them – as I’m the oldest it’s my responsibility.