A boom at the border By William Sparrow

I went to a "mom and pop" store for cigarettes. A very young woman was handling the transaction; thin, long hair, long legs, pretty face with no makeup. I wondered if she was 18.

As she turned and descended into the dark shop, an elderly women, presumably a relative, emerged from the shadows. She lunged from her seat, sensing opportunity. "You want she?" the woman asked, meaning "her" - the young woman.

I was shocked and caught off-guard and couldn't respond. In the silence, the
elder woman continued "You want daughter? You take," she said, pointing. "Have
hotel. Fifteen dollar."

"No," I said firmly. With that, the old woman scowled and slunk back to her seat.

The shop girl never met my eyes as she handed over the cigarettes. Still, I perceived a small smile.

A sex slave working as a shop girl; a young woman being sold by her own mother. It was a sad situation that I won't soon forget. Sadly, scenes like this will likely continue until the Myanmar government can improve the lives of its 55 million people. I was overcome by this realization as I settled the bill in that tiny shop on the Myanmar-Thai border.

As I turned to leave, I heard the shop girl whisper "thank you".

Read more at Asia Times


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