Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Underage Sex Trade


The United States’ annual Trafficking of Persons report in June this year had downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3 for its lack of progress in fighting human trafficking. It seems that there were grounds that forced labor and sex trafficking thrive in Malaysia. 

And now, there is another damning piece of evidence against Malaysia in a video documentary on the underage sex trade in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. 

The video, now on YouTube and titled "Trapped – The underage sex trade in Malaysia", is the result of two years of research by journalists Mahi Ramakrishnan and Rian Maelzer.

"It took me a long time to develop friendships with brothel owners and get them to allow me to speak to their people. Finding these children who worked as sex workers was one of the biggest challenges I had to face," Mahi explained. 

"I would go every day and spend time at these places, talking to them from about 11 PM to the wee hours of the morning." 

Another challenge Mahi had to deal with while researching the subject was to face her own fears. "I was scared, really scared. I wasn't sure how deeply embedded the child sex trade was in Malaysia with all the syndicates and triads," she admitted. 

"I have two daughters myself. And it was difficult for me to come to terms that I was doing this story, as I could not help but imagine what if it had been my daughter in that position." 

The 22-minute video was released on YouTube on September 12, 2014 and it has so far received 261,318 views. The video features interviews with the police, child activists and psychologists and three sex workers who are underaged but seasoned in their trade. Two of them tell Mahi that they do it for the money while the other revealed that she had been tricked into prostitution after reaching Malaysia. 

Some Malaysians may be shocked but I am not too surprised. Just walk along Bukit Bintang and Chow Kit and if you look closely, you will see a parallel world of smut, sleaze and sinfulness. Welcome to Kuala Lumpur!

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