Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One Red Light District in Phnom Penh

Just down the street from the hotel where I'm staying is a major red light district in Phnom Penh. They call it "The Building." It gets is name from a dilapidated three- or four-story landmark building with a triangular plaza adjacent to it. Every night, girls are paraded around the plaza by their handlers, so the johns can take their pick.

My translator tells me that it's easy to find 15-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and younger girls working at "The Building." Behind it is an alley filled with ratty stalls, where these girls pass long nights servicing a steady stream of customers.

Just four days ago, I came home from the campgrounds where we held a camp out for families from our church. Some friends invited me into their RV to enjoy some homemade tacos. There on the couch was a young girl from our church who was waiting to go outside to hang out with her friends and make s'mores around the campfire. She's 14-years-old.

The juxtaposition of these two scenes is stark. Not every teenager in the world should have the chance to go camping. But every child should be able to spend a carefree night somewhere other than in a defiling haunt like "The Building."