The Shame

Mama San won't budge from $1,000. There's the food, the clothes, the makeup, the perfume and the condoms, not to mention the fees of the middlemen. At $1,000, she's making nothing, she says. She taps out the figure in baht on a calculator and holds it up: 43,650. You won't get a pair of 14-year-old Burmese girls for less in this town.

"Thirty thousand," I suggest.

"Forty-three," counters Mama San. She tells Tip (whose name means "heavenly light") and Lek (meaning "small") to fetch their chips. The two tiny figures squatting at her feet jump...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!