I recently heard a story on NPR (National Public Radio, for our non-American posters...It's like the American version of BBC Radio News) about a journalist who was interviewing two girls in Cambodia (I think it was Cambodia, anyway the country is irrelevant). The girls had been stolen / sold into sex slavery. The journalist, after conducting the interview, realized he could buy both girls outright for $350 US. So he did. Then he returned them to their village. The question is, did he do the right thing?

I'm curious to hear what other people think about this debate. I have heard arguments from both sides.
1 2 3
I'd say so. At first it seems like a good deed. I suppose you have to ask whether they would be sold right back into slavery or if they have the means to support themselves.

What a cheap price on life!
Arrrrgg!! That's a tough one; it's human life at the end of the day so my following comments don't really apply..

It reminds me of those birds they have in Thailand(? - I think). They have them in cages and tourists pay money to set them free - the birds are trained to fly back. Vicious circle, by making a sale the 'trade' of bird catching/caging is sustained - if noone bought birds or cared if they were in cages - they'd all be set free (no money in it) - Pure irony.

Like I said, this doesn't apply to humans for me but the point is: Even though by buying somebody out of slavery you're doing them a favour; in the long (even the short) run you are increasing the problem.

In this DJ's case he's raised the profile - ie it WILL happen again to another DJ now etc. etc. They know it's a quick buck.

I, would however, do exactly the same thing - as I'm sure most of us would.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
If I were the jounalist, I would do the same thing. I think this might be the first response any conscientious people would have. We all know it's illegal to sell and buy human beings, but if our purpose of buying someone is to save someone, I think it's right. What do you think, Chameleon?Emotion: wink
Doesn't it depend on what you compare it with?

I mean, if you compare it with doing nothing, it's a good thing.
On the other hand, if you compare it with a mass jailbreak setting all the slaves free, I'd go with the jailbreak.

It would definitely be a good thing. I wouldn't want them to go to their village again, though.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I'd like to know the complete story.
As the journalist had to establish contact with the "sellers", I hope he denounced them to the police as well as return the girls to their village or at least, to some organizations of human rights or Amnesty International.
It may have been that the journalist had no choice in the matter other than those laid out by the captors. You're confronted with two girls, sold or kidnapped into slavery, but most likely surrounded by armed guards. What are your options?

1) Take a very good chance of getting shot / captured&tortured&shot / worse while trying to free them. The girls get sold into sex slavery anyway after you're dead

2) Do nothing and report the story

3) Cooperate with the captors and buy the girls

In countries as politically corrupt as the ones we're talking about, the police are far more likely to take a $5 bribe than confront armed slave traders, so I doubt that option would have accomplished much. Human rights groups are already painfully aware of the issue. The tracking and capture of the offenders is a major problem (again mostly due to inadequate or corrupt police / military). International interest is also lacking because southeast asia (and other third world areas like rural africa) have little strategic value at this point in history. And despite a large low-wage workforce, corporations are unwilling to invest in volatile regions, further reducing pressure to deal with the problem.

What I'm glad to see is that no one made the argument that journalists shouldn't interfere in the situation on which they're reporting. Plain and simple, your duty as a human overrides your duty as a reporter.

I think the ultimate problem question in this specific situation is what do you do with the girls once you've purchased them? Do you return them to their village where their family may re-sell them into slavery? Or, if they weren't sold, but were kidnapped, is it really right to return them to their previous miserable existence (where they are probably likely to be re-kidnapped)?

Are there provisions in international law for claiming asylum for minors? How could you legally go about adopting someone you've purchased from a slave trader?
I'm also reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa:

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Show more