The Girls of Phnom Penh
‘The Girls of Phnom Penh’, which was filmed over six months in 2008 and 2009, follows three victims of Cambodia’s virginity trade as they struggle to endure the ordeals of their daily existence. The film features an original score by Nick & Warren.
Telling their own story in their own words, what grows increasingly evident in the discourse of the film is the extraordinary bond that exists between the three girls – like sisters united against all the horrors the world throws at them.
Srey Leak was deflowered by a stranger when she was 14. Like many Cambodian men, he believed her virginity would increase his good health and virility. Her family used the money to pay her mother’s medical bills. Her two friends, Me Nea and Cheata, opted to sell themselves to support their families and young children.
The film paints a portrait of ordinary girls, little more than children, who share the same preoccupations, insecurities and vanity of teenagers the world over, yet nightly make the greatest of sacrifices. In the clutches of an unforgiving spiral of debt and ignominy, it is a mark of the girls’ strength as well as their desperation that they each maintain they would do the same, given their time over again.
“Against the odds, these teenagers offer a message which is at once disarming and inspiring. Despite the burdens placed on their slight shoulders, family pressures, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, creditors and the ever present danger of violence and disease, the girls’ unshakeable bond sees them through.”