A television mini-series premiered Saturday on TVK aiming to educate the public about domestic violence and portray the grim realities of sexual exploitation.
The series follows a Cambodian mother who overcomes domestic abuse to become a commune chief in Kompong Cham province, and her daughter—who is taken away at a young age and passed between foreign sex-tourists before finally seeing her mother again.
The show was produced by the Women’s Media Center of Cambodia and funded by USAID. Both the mother and child are named Sapor, with the mother played by Cambodian modeling pioneer Sapor Rendall.
One of the show’s co-authors Yeb Na Any said the younger Sapor is sold first to a Japanese man, then to a Korean man before being forcibly married to a Westerner. Each of seven episodes lasts 30 minutes and will be aired Saturdays on TVK at 6pm and Sundays on TV3 at 1 pm.
In one scene, the younger Sapor looks in the mirror and says, “I have had enough, mother. I am going to run away. After I slept with [one man], he forced me to sleep with the dog.”
Uch Thavy, another co-author of the series, said producers tried to show the ugliness of sex trafficking.
“When [girls] are sold or trafficked, they will face a lot of debauchery such as being forced to have sex with a dog. Sometimes [they] are considered as the animal,” she said.
But the show’s message is also one of possibility and progress and viewers already following the plot will absorb an educational message without even trying.
Sapor Rendall said her 20 days of filming were well worth it.
“The film is based on real stories which makes the message strong,” she said, adding: “It’s easy to learn because people don’t even realize they are learning.”
An official with the anti-trafficking organization International Justice Mission said he hadn’t heard of the series. “In general, the more information the better, as long as the show is factual and not sensationalized,” he said. He also said that while clientele looking to purchase Cambodian virgins are mostly foreign, those visiting brothels are mostly Cambodian.