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Apparel workers are on their feet all day, other than for a short lunch break, and they work such long hours that they see little sunlight.

Reading the story, I couldn't help but think about the question of sex work.

Does the idea of it bother many of us because we are projecting our own pruderies onto the people who do it?

Over the weekend, I happened to be talking to a friend about prostitution.

I mentioned an article I'd written about a former sex worker named Rachel Lloyd who founded a groupcalled Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, or GEMS.

They are subject to strict workplace rules (i.e., asking permission to go to the bathroom), are pressured to meet high quotas, and, despite Cambodia's 'sweatshop-free' reputation, growing numbers work on short-term contracts that deprive them of basic labor rights." Then there's sex work: "Hostesses [who work at brothel-like drink bars] also work long hours — typically late afternoon until 2 a.m.

— but they usually eat at least one meal at work, hang out with friends, and watch television when business is slow.

By March 1995, minors (aged 12 to 17 years old) comprised nearly 31% of prostituted persons in Phnom Penh and 11 other provinces, according to a survey conducted by the Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia.

35% of prostitutes in Cambodia are under the age of 18.

If it were legal — which would mean workers could be protected from violence, and patrons would also be forced to practice safe sex — would it be a different story?

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