By Mark Hamilton
This past Wednesday the documentary The Pink Room was shown to raise awareness of the horrors of sex trafficking in Cambodia and what some are doing to help, as part of Social Justice Week. I went to cover it for the Beacon Bolt, and after seeing it I’m terribly glad that I did.
The documentary was powerful to say the least. Right from the beginning it took us into the dark heart of the Cambodian sex trade. We’re told the story of woman named Mien who grew up with an alcoholic father. He would take most of the money he earned all week and waste it on liquor and gambling. Mien and her siblings didn’t have enough to eat, and when they complained their father would beat them. She wanted to help her family so when she was only a young girl she sold herself to a brothel. They locked her in a room for several days until they could line up a client: people pay top dollar for a virgin. She remained at the brothel for years, facing beatings and abuse if she failed to please her clients.
There are many with a story like her’s in Cambodia, and The Pink Room does not shy away from telling us the worst of those stories. We hear that men from all over the world come to Cambodia to enjoy themselves. Pedophiles regularly come to rape little girls outside the view of the law. The pimps there cater to every interest.
Among these villains we can also see those who are willing to fight for the innocent. The documentary interviews leaders from International Justice Missions, Chab Dai (literally “joining hands” in Cambodian), and Agape International Missions, all of whom are active in trying to stop the Cambodian sex trade and help former victims to heal. They work with the government to raid underground brothels, rescue women from sex slavery, and give them psychological, material, educational, and spiritual support. Mien was just such a woman. She was rescued from a brothel after she had given up all hope. She received love and acceptance from those who saved her, and was given help on creating a new start in life.
The Pink Room‘s greatest asset is that it shows us both sides of the issue plainly. It does not attempt to soften the painful reality of the situation; but it also shows us the reality of the good that is being done as well. Don Brewster, founder of Agape International Missions, said that “People watching (this documentary) should not walk away sullen and defeated but empowered that anyone–and I mean anyone–can help rebuild lives. Now that you are aware, you have the life changing opportunity to act.”
If you ever get an opportunity to see The Pink Room then you should take it. Troy has a copy on DVD and is willing to lend it out to any student who is interested. If you can’t manage to see it, then you should at least go to http://agapewebsite.org/aims-story/ to learn more about how you can help stop sex trafficking in Cambodia.