Despite its horrific and tragic past, Phnom Penh fortunately is a very interesting tourist destination.
You can walk on the boulevard along the Mekong River and stroll among cluttered market stalls.
Women don’t always carry the same baby, indicating that the babies are merely rented or borrowed for the night.
Many of the babies are carried by older children and the babies are uncharacteristically docile.
Local child protection organizations say that they haven’t seen evidence that the babies are drugged, but it seems entirely possible in order to assure their pliability and make them seem more pathetic and sympathetic.
Personally, there’s only one baby I’ve seen on Pub Street that seems alert, the rest are scarily mellow, especially when one considers the fact that they are there for up to 12 hours at a time.
Just a few days ago I saw a tourist taking photos of himself posing with a canister of formula and the bedraggled street kid he was buying it for.
He probably went straight back to his hotel to post about the experience on Facebook, and no doubt received an appreciative response from his friends, who were just as clueless about the reality of the situation as he.
In this case, where it appears that a much more sinister situation exists than families merely begging for money, you must understand that by participating in any way, you are contributing to the abuse of these children.Children are also used in this scam, often toting the babies themselves.Because they have more value as beggars or scammers, they are kept on the streets all night, instead of sleeping and going to school in the mornings.It’s hard not to think that if tourists just said “no,” this market in child beggars would not be so prolific.Buying formula does not help these babies, it does quite the opposite.