A man steps into a small convenience store on a side street in Poipet, Cambodia, and buys a lottery ticket. He probably has no idea that in that same shop, only ten years ago, he could have bought a human being.
In a 2011 New York Times op-ed, Nicholas Kristof tells the story of the shop’s transition from house of slavery to convenience store. During a 2004 trip to Cambodia, Kristof visited the brothel and freed two girls by “purchasing” them for $350. “What staggers me,” he said in an interview, “is that I got receipts for both of them.” Over the last decade, Kristof has been one of many voices illuminating the dark world of sex trafficking. This attention to the issue, along with the dogged work of many NGOs, led to a crackdown in Poipet. While the police technically allowed the brothel to remain open, they began demanding higher and higher bribes from the brothel owners. When the owners saw their profits dwindlingdrastically, they closed up shop voluntarily.