When you see a sign in Cambodia which says Massage: 5000 Riel (Cambodian currency equivalent to $1.25), it means only one thing to any Cambodian. It is a modern day brothel. Girls for sale. . . only $1.25. I know that we would all prefer to just close our eyes as we drive by and not look into the darkly lit rooms with a row of girls sitting watching a Karaoke while waiting for their customers. Sadly, most people do simply close their eyes, or pretend that it really is legitimate.
I have lived in Asia my whole life and have never seen a legitimate “massage parlor” yet. Even back in the old west, they never put up signs saying “brothel”. . . how shameful, so they just put up their signs saying “saloon”. The modern day Asian saloon is a “message parlor”. What disturbs me is not the stories of how the girls get into their places for work (although most have horrible stories, some are trafficked while others go by choice), but even more is the ignorance that many Christian have toward them.
Why is it that when so many Christians come over to Cambodia they seem to want to go get massages? No lie, it is one of the most common requests I get. Usually they will say something like, “I want to go to a legitimate one.” And by “legitimate” they mean what exactly? More expensive, prettier girls, boys, blind (as if blind people cannot be immoral), lack of red lights? Like I said, I have been in Asia for 30 years (of my 38) and I haven’t heard of a “legitimate” massage parlor yet.
Speaking as a man I would like to say that I love my wife deeply. I also do not believe that it honors my wife, my marriage or my credibility if I would ever allow another woman to massage my body. Speaking also as a man, I don’t believe we could focus on anything righteous if another woman was massaging our body either.
So, if you are dreaming of coming to Cambodia. Please come, it is a fascinating and wonderful place. But please remember it is a place where sin reigns supreme and Satan’s demonic legions have ruled for millennia. There are many bad things here: from cheap drugs to cheap girls. So be prepared to resist sin’s temptations.
If you do come and are tempted by the signs that say “Massage: 5000 Riel”, then make sure you bring your wife with you to keep you straight! When people ask me to take them to a massage parlor I usually respond, “sure, just call your wife and say goodbye to her first. . . then I’ll take you!”
As Christians, and as guests in Cambodia, the best thing we can do to help stop the sale of women, is to not engage in anything that has to do with promoting or creating more demand for cheap girls. In the long term, we are always working toward giving them the most expensive gift of all, the Lord Jesus Christ so that they can see their lives are worth far more than $1.25.