Sunday, November 27, 2011

KTV - Karoke TV or Is it?

Today I was up in one of the familiar suburbs where I used to stay when I first came to Cambodia in the early 2000s. This sleepy community was a place where one would find a lot of NGOs or development organizations. While some of them are still located there, the surrounding area has changed immensely. There are new service apartments and condominiums as well as large mansions that dot the suburban surroundings but one of the newest sights has been the arrival of several KTV (Karoke TV) clubs which can be spotted all along the main street. What exactly is KTV anyway?

KTV stands for Karoke Television where many people come and hang out in private booths to sing karoke songs. But it is not like the Karoke places that I and many of my friends used to visit back home when we were in university. Here it is really a front for another style of brothel. Someone has described KTV as 'Knocking Trading Virgins'. At around 5pm all the young women can be seen sitting outside these KTV places waiting for customers. When the customers come, they are escorted into these Karoke booths and the girls attend to their needs whatever that maybe. It is interesting to see how the sex trade has morphed into a whole new style of entertainment.

This picture above is off a new KTV operations. There are no windows on this building---a dead giveaway of the type of activity that will take place in here. The photo below displays what customers can expect if they go inside one of the rooms. This advertisement is freely displayed in the outside of the building.

I went around this area today with a friend of mind. God seems to be birthing a vision in her heart for these young women who work in this area so today we felt like Joshua and Caleb checking out the 'promised land'. Our first stop was to visit a local beauty salon where we got a pedicure for the incredible price of 75 cents. My friend has begun to prayer walk this area and this particular salon is a place that the girls will come in the early afternoon to get their hair and makeup done as they prepare for their evening at KTV. So we thought it would be a good idea to just visit the beauty salon and get to know some of the girls who work there. With both of us being Asian and being small in stature, we blend in somewhat into the atmosphere although the owner of the salon found it somewhat humorous that we would chose her salon. I suspect they probably thought we were 'wealthier' and would go to a more high end salon. One of the blessings of knowing the language is that it has its own ways of opening doors and so my friend did most of the talking while I sat listening and taking in the environment. My friend is hoping to make regular weekly visits to this place and to just prayer walk around the area as a first step to seeing where the Lord will lead. This reminds me of how Joshua walked around the walls of Jericho. As we left the salon, the building next to it was a local KTV establishment, we passed by 4 young girls----they didn't look much older than 14 to 16 years old----they smiled at us as we smiled at them. We didn't want to be too obvious so we decided to not stop but kept walking although a part of me would have liked to have just stopped and chatted with them briefly.  But all in God's timing. My friend alluded to the fact that many of the girls in these places seem so young. They certainly look young and I wouldn't be surprise if they were in their early teens.

So here in Cambodia, KTV establishments are popping all over the place because of their increased popularity. Sadly, they are just another front for the exploitation of young women who are desperately looking to earn a living but are caught in a web that continues to treat them as a commodity. Pray for God to protect these young women, many of them we believe are teenagers. Pray that the Lord will raise up people like my friend who will be given a vision on how best to reach out to this new vulnerable population.

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