Photographer's Note


The abnormal class in brothels zone
(Click the title for more info of the topic)

Taking information from Tran Tien Dung’s article published in Người Việt Online, I arranged a visit to the so-called class.

The location is right in the heart of Siem Reab City—a name represents the sacred Angkor Wat—one of the Seven Forgotten Medeival Wonders of the World. Within a few blocks, we could see some ten obvious brothels decorated as empty garages with a few plastic chairs where the girls sat and gossiped while awaiting for a man to come. When the customer walks in, he would point to the girl he selects from the crowd, bargaining the price, and after a quick consent, they both cross the plywood wall and just a few steps away is the bed with cheap mattress in a tight room with noisy fan. In this country where prostitution is in public, Vietnamese girls are not ashamed as back home. After abandoned fatherland and all relatives, there is nothing to prevent them from looking up and admitting their "capital-free" business.

The area where these Việt kiều live maybe the poorest place in town. Because they live away from Vietnam, they still share the same title but in fact, they are not recognized as Cambodian citizen. Local government gave them voting registration cards and enforced them to such political activity, but never issued birth certificate to the children who were born here. Vietnamese in Cambodia has no civil rights. Nobody denies them “human rights”, but they are not treated as human beings. They are seen as two-leg animals, in a status that I mentioned as floating misery.

I arrived an hour before the class, to have time talking to the teacher. He lives in a multi-purpose 4m x 4m “residence”, among the other Vietnamese people who the majority is involved with prostitution industry. While the prostitutes confront the race discrimination and HIV threat, their children are left without education. This generation automatically speaks Khmer, but unable to write it, nor Vietnamese language. From this disadvantage, they are kept off from the society they live in. This is why the teacher rented the shared front patio of 6 sheltering units to set up his bivouac classroom. “Teacher” is the title I used to address him, but he denied it:

“I am not a certified teacher. Just because I cannot close my eyes at the lack of basic maternal language to Vietnamese children in town. I stood up to convert the humble and limited education I had to the next generation. I don’t get pay for the task, and Vietnamese children in this red-light district have suffered enough; they need to be shed a light; they are thirsty of being able to speak correctly their maternal language. My class is free of charge. We kept the class running by my income as Angkor tour-guide, and by the benevolence of those whose hearts felt pain at the situation of these kids.

Most of my students’ mothers are prostitutes in town. They speak Khmer, live in Cambodia but are not recognized as a person. The Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh does nothing to help Vietnamese in Cambodia, nor do Cambodian authorities. These human beings do not have a birth certificate or an ID card. They are subjected to be massacred any time as happened many times in the past. And they are subjected to poverty, illness, hunger and illiteracy.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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