I don't want to tell you about these mothers who are selling their daughters' virginity, who are selling their daughters into sex slavery because it is one of the most upsetting things that I have ever come across, but I have to because these children need help. Cambodia is a global hot spot for the child sex trade. Pedophile sex tourists from around the world make their way to Cambodia to sexually abuse children who have been forced into a life of sex slavery oftentimes by their own mothers. Poverty is rampant and somehow the selling of children as sexual commodities has been so normalized that parents see it as a legitimate way to make money. They take their daughters to the hospital to obtain virginity certificates and then force their daughters, who are still children, to have sex for money. Can you imagine having your own mother traffic you? How alone and betrayed you would feel?

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Mothers in Cambodia sell their daughters' virginity to perverted "virginity seekers" who believe that there are some kind of health-related benefits and restorative powers to deflowering a virgin. There are organizations like Agape International Missions (AIM) working in the area to help bring an end to these atrocities and to help those who have been abused, but the obstacles they face including police corruption make the struggle very difficult.

How could any mother do something so horrible to their daughter? Neoung of Phnom Penh, who sold her daughter's virginity and then continued to traffic her repeatedly afterward, told CNN, "Selling my daughter was heartbreaking, but what can I say? It was because of the debt, that's why I had to sell her...I don't know what to do now, because we cannot move back to the past."

"I can't imagine what it feels like to have your mother sell you, to have your mother waiting in the car while she gets money for you to be raped," says Don Brewster, who is a 59-year-old American and former pastor who moved to Cambodia with his wife and is working with AIM to help stop this abuse. "It's not that she was stolen from her mother--her mother gave the keys to the people to rape her." I can't imagine it either and it makes me sick to my stomach that so many little girls do not have to imagine it because they have lived through it.

It's important that we all learn about these horrors and that people like Don Brewster, organizations like AIM, and media outlets like CNN continue to shed light on this darkness to help get children out of these situations, to force local authorities to do the right thing, to make it clear to mothers in the area that this is not a viable or legitimate options for dealing with poverty.

Image via CNN Freedom Project

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About the author

You can find Claudya Martinez on her own blog Unknown Mami. Stop by, she loves visitors. Of course you can also find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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