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No Exit: Stop trafficking, Decriminalise Sex Work

Through its association with USAID, MTV EXIT has placed itself in the middle of a battle waged by sex workers and garment workers for the right to work and the right to fare wages. Unfortunately, MTV EXIT through its concerts presented a message that potentially made the situation worse for Cambodian sex workers. By conflating prostitution with trafficking, prostitution is reduced to sex slavery and is painted as a degrading and abusive profession. Within this pattern of thought, prostitutes are not considered women with agency who have freely chosen their profession, but instead are considered victims in need of ‘saving’. Critics have pointed out that the MTV EXIT campaign will be seen by audiences as reinforcing the Cambodian government’s anti-trafficking law and agenda. Read full article Cambodia: MTV no EXIT campaign indirectly supports abusive anti-trafficking law.

 

Video transcript:
No Exit: Stop trafficking, Decriminalise Sex Work

Reporter: Hi, this is Jen Chun talking for NO Exit news, live from the MTV Exit concert at the Olympic stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where thousands of people will gather later today for a live concert given by international and local pop stars. But, the sex worker groups are protesting. Oh, here they are. Let’s go and see what they are doing there.

Group Chanting: Sex work is work! Sex workers’ rights are human rights. Rights of the worker! Right to work! We don’t support MTV! MTV down, down!

Reporter: MTV Exit has received a huge amount of criticism from a local sex worker group who feel their voice has been neglected throughout the campaign. Here we have a representative from a sex work union, WNU.

WNU Representative: MTV is going to have a concert here. Sex workers, under the new anti-trafficking law, are victims of human rights abuses and violations. Some of them have been put into jail or to rehabilitation centres. They (MTV) are here without consulting with sex workers, so we are here today to tell people about our concerns and how the anti-trafficking law affects our lives. We want the Cambodian people to know about our concerns and also let MTV Exit know about it. MTV only shows the good points about anti-trafficking laws without learning about our situation here.

Reporter: MTV has the potential to be an incredible platform within Cambodia for the issues surrounding trafficking. But the campaign has failed on many levels. The biggest failure is that they completely disconnected from the needs of the Cambodia community and the opinions provided to the viewers are only a portion of the issue. So now let’s follow me to see another group of the sex workers who are handing and explaining about their concerns to the audience.

Protester: We don’t support MTV because they abuse the human rights of sex workers and garment workers in Cambodia.

Protester in Hat: MTV does not understand the new anti-trafficking law in Cambodia because this law abuses sex workers’ human rights, violates women and puts them in jail.

Group in Vehicle: Hello! No Exit!

Reporter: Behind me is the temple of the Royal Palace. Earlier this year, sex workers prayed here for an end to the abuse caused by the trafficking law.

Reporter: MTV clearly did not do their homework on the implication of running a USAID funded anti-trafficking campaign. The message that the world will receive from the MTV 24 minute special will fail to address the real concerns of trafficking in Cambodia. The main concern being accusation of human rights abuses from people who have been detained under the new anti-trafficking law.

Lady in Black hat: Last year, the police illegally detained me and took me to the rehabilitation centre. This year, when the trafficking law is enacted, they will still arrest HIV positive people and send them to the rehab centre.

Reporter: MTV furthered its detachment from the community by limiting their possible partner due to contractual agreement with USAID. MTV cannot broadcast the opinion of sex workers, but No Exit can. Sex workers make up the vast majority of the entertainment industry in Cambodia. The MTV Exit campaign will therefore only broadcast a biased view of the sex and entertainment industry to the world.

Voice with pictures: The anti-trafficking movement is fast become one of the most popular causes in the world with many NGOs, churches, universities, charities and the media focusing on it. For MTV, the network with one of the highest amount of viewers globally, to spotlight such a huge subject and only provide selected information on an issue, is the ultimate insult to its viewers. With MTV being the only source of information on trafficking for many youth, providing them with half the story can only be one thing: deceitful. While it is crucial for the anti-trafficking issue to be addressed globally, doing so in a way which silences men and women affected by anti-trafficking groups and law is not a fair message for the so-called MTV generation, as it does not encompass all sides of the issue. In order to create a proper broadcast, one should highlight all sides of the story and allow the viewers to draw their own conclusions. As MTV is a truly influential network among the world’s youth, they should take into consideration the significance of excluding the message of the affected people within their broadcast.

Group of protesters marching and chanting: Sex Work is Work!

Reporter: we can only hope that in the future, MTV Exit will realise and learn from their mistake and better address the needs of the community in the country in which they work, as well as portray the issue involved in trafficking in a well round(ed) and unbiased way. This is Jen Chun for No Exit News: As you hear it first.

Group singing.

Caption with Lady speaking: Bravo! Women’s Network for Unity! Sex Work is Work!

Caption: If you were us, what would you think? Please stop insulting us! No one wants it. We had no choice. Please give us justice because we are all human beings. Even though we are different nationalities, we need a life that is valued.

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