Cambodia, Slavery, and Not Buying People

Slavery in Cambodia – an enormous problem existing at all levels – has been receiving increased attention: here’s a good article in the Phnom Penh Post, and here’s an article from CNN. Gratefully, the new attention is not solely focused on the sexual slave trade. That trade needs lots of attention and needs to be eliminated, but an exclusive focus on that simply normalizes the slavery of men, who are also widely trafficked.  I’m grateful that these ‘separate’ problems are increasingly being seen as linked.

Unfortunately, those who continue to profit from slavery – slavers and their customers – continue to unwittingly conspire together. In a recent raid on a brothel, journalist and professional op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof live-tweeted the event. I’ve discussed Kristoff on this blog before: I consider him a human trafficker whose ‘good intentions’ have led him not only to purchase two human beings (he made sure to get a receipt so he could be reimbursed by the New York Times newspaper), but to create an image of himself as a ‘saint’ as a result.  It’s a disturbing synergy, where Kristoff performs the role of a John, allows the slaver to profit financially from the transaction, and where Kristof then is also allowed to profit from the transaction. Thankfully, journalists are now starting to note the self-serving sanctimony, and question its efficiency, including good articles at, “Nick Kristof To The Rescue!

If you are interested in eliminating slavery in the world today – and you should be – I suggest you join a local abolitionst movement, such as Not for Sale.  I am a local and founding member of a group called Historians Against Slavery, an open group to academics and others who wish to more intentionally attack slavery and its causes. But please – don’t buy people, and don’t encourage those who do.

Journalist Faine Greenwood in Cambodia wrote on Kristof’s recent live-tweeting of the raid, and took a moderate, but critical, position. She also graciously linked to my brief previous discussion of the topic. I encourage you to read it, here:


One thought on “Cambodia, Slavery, and Not Buying People

  1. Pingback: Webbed Feet, Web Log » Blog Archive » Half The Sky; On The Ground

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