(Sex Workers Cry) Rights Not Rescue in Cambodia

Sex workers want their voices heard. This documentary is a collaboration between the 6400-member Women’s Network for Unity (WNU) Cambodia and NGO Filmmaker Paula Stromberg.


The film premiered on International Women’s Day at Phnom Penh’s leading art gallery/theatre, Meta House on March 8, 2013.

In Rights Not Rescue, the film’s subjects question Cambodia’s focus on training ‘Rescued’ female sex workers to sew in low wage garment factories. They want governments, NGOs, labour unions, and donors to seriously address workers’ rights and help women enter different fields where they can actually earn a living wage.

Since 2008, WNU sex workers have lobbied the Cambodian government to amend the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. Rights Not Rescue is a provocative attempt to take the dialogue to another level, engaging government, international stakeholders and donors.

The movie takes a brave look at the root causes of human trafficking and sexual abuse — including the Neo-liberal capitalist structures that are harming Cambodia — structures that create poverty and drastic inequality in society.

The documentary also is quite a poke in the eye for world-wide ‘Rescue Industry’ organizations and the well-meaning donors who support them — including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), international churches, government/bi-lateral donors, some women’s groups, fundamentalists, and charities that receive millions of dollars each year based on the number of victims they rescue.
The movie features an ear-worm soundtrack by Cambodia’s acclaimed Messenger Band (MB). (27 min-2013)

Other Works

Mother’s Mink
Prostitution Decriminalization in New Zealand by Robyn Few
Sadie Lune “I Want You” at Museum of Modern Art
The Prostitutes of Lyon Speak (10 min English excerpt)

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