Can you imagine a life where your own mother willingly sends you to the streets to be a sex worker, where your virginity is sold to the highest bidder and where you are forced to sleep with 10 men each night? Sadly, this nightmare is reality for many girls in the sex trade of Southeast Asia. Human trafficking is a serious and widespread problem, and victims are offered few escape routes from the brutal life.
These photos offer a small glimpse at the lives of sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where the sex trade is a growing industry.
A slum building in downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where drugs and prostitution are rampant. Human trafficking survivor Srey Neth was sold here, by her mother, at age 14 to a pimp who later sold Neth’s virginity for $300. (Tim Matsui)
Srey Neth and Lia move into the STAR House, a secondary transition home designed to help victims of sex trafficking to learn the skills to reintegrate into society without falling back to sex work. The teenagers are residents of Transitions Global and have experienced horrific physical and mental abuse largely at the hands of their fellow Cambodians. (Tim Matsui)
These photos were taken by Tim Matsui and submitted to the Alexia Foundation, a group dedicated to bringing real change through photography.