In Brief... World News Review: The Slave Trade of 2004

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In Brief... World News Review

The Slave Trade of 2004

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Slavery is something of the past, isn't it? A shocking Dateline report on Jan. 23 shows again that it is an everyday occurrence in Cambodia. Even more despicable is the reason: The victims are sold as slaves for sex. But the most deplorable aspect of the story is that these slaves are children, some as young as 5 years old.

Dateline's investigation was about poverty-stricken Cambodia, and the poverty is itself part of the story. A 14-year-old girl related that she came from an extremely poor family in neighboring Vietnam. A woman approached her on her way from school one day and offered her work in a café. The "café" turned out to be a brothel in Cambodia, where slaves are beaten and starved into submission.

The Cambodian government works with human rights groups to rescue children from the slavery of brothels. But an estimated 40 percent of girls who are freed will return to prostitution to support themselves. They are trapped by the ever-present poverty, as well as by the psychologically crippling experiences of working as sex slaves as little girls.

Mu Soc Hua, Cambodia's Minister of Women's Affairs, estimates that the number of children involved in this unthinkable horror is 30,000. But Cambodia isn't the only part of the world where children are so exploited. Dateline estimates the number runs into the hundreds of thousands worldwide.

Some Cambodian children are sold by their own parents into sexual slavery. In their undercover investigation, Dateline's people posed as tourists in a café. A 15-year-old boy quickly approached them and began his spiel. He introduced his mother to them; she knows what he is doing and gets a cut of the money he makes. Westerners might ask, "How could parents do such a thing?" While it is no excuse, the oppression of poverty, year after year, decade after decade, dehumanizes people to the point of doing these wretched things.

And it's tourists from the West who are making the sex slave trade profitable. Approximately 750,000 tourists visit Cambodia annually; many, it seems come expressly looking for children. One American radiologist was so unashamed of his intent that he told Dateline his name, profession and where he came from!

The United States' government is actively involved in stopping the sex slave trade in Cambodia. It granted $1 million to a human rights group, International Justice Mission, which is dedicated to the battle. And the U.S. State Department is now investigating Americans who may have been involved in the crimes.

What a shame that the government has to clean up after its citizens, people who ought to be lending a helping hand to the less blessed of the world. God will not long continue those blessings, if our people squander them on their base lusts.

Holding up a model of how not to live, Paul wrote to Corinth (a cosmopolitan city of sinners) about a time when Israel's people "played," that is, freely indulged their sexual lusts. God, Paul reminded, struck dead over 20,000 people. To give you a sense of those figures, if Israel at that time (shortly after God rescued them from Egypt) had a population of 2 million people, that's more than 1 percent. Current U.S. census figures estimate the U.S. population at just under 300 million, so 1 percent would be about 3 million people! We're not saying God is going to strike millions of people dead; we're just telling you what Paul said. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Do the American (and other Western) people want to "play," or live moral lives of self-control and care for others? We need to know that God will not long allow us to misuse Abraham's heritage.

—Source: Dateline NBC