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Beneath the Surface

Cambodia is deceiving. Hidden in the shadows of its vibrant city streets, modern architecture, eclectic culture, and majestic mosques is the discrimination and enslavement of Vietnamese people. Worse, the diseased tradition of trafficking Vietnamese women and children. Pitted from generations of hate and antagonism towards the Vietnamese government for exerting control and influence as early as the 13th century, the Cambodian government and its people directly disfavors the Vietnamese.

Now I will not even try to explain the history and politics between Cambodia and Vietnam, given that social studies was my least successful subject in school and thus why I'm a science geek. I would encourage you to Wikipedia "Cambodian-Vietnamese War" and "Khmer Rouge"if you're interested. I've spent the last 2 hours trying to Coles Notes the damn thing but my disinterest and poor understanding for historical politics prevails.

What is important to know is that Vietnamese people do not and cannot get Cambodian citizenship because of this longstanding prejudice. They can't even buy it, despite the corruption of government officials! This means that Vietnamese people cannot work and cannot go to school. Well, they can work labour jobs like fishing and selling cans. Vietnamese children can go to school from grade 1-6 without citizenship, but are bullied, beat, and picked on. As a result, generations of uneducated Vietnamese people are forced into rural areas where it is the commonplace for families to sell their daughter's virginity's from the prime age of 12-15 to usually local Cambodian men. These girls are in turn sex slaves until the undesirable age of their late 20s and are sent back to their local villages. Because Vietnamese men are desperate, these girls can then marry, have children, and this vicious more-than-disturbed cycle repeats itself through generations. Can you believe that families would have community celebrations once their daughters' virginity's are sold?

Why don't these families just move back to Vietnam you ask? Well, for those families who fled their country during the Vietnam War, they are no longer welcome. They are seen as traitors. Without papers in both Cambodia and Vietnam,these people are displaced, lost, and stuck in slave limbo.

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