NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF’s Striking the Brothels’ Bottom Line in NYT talks about how increased raids and NGO activism has begun to close down brothels in Cambodia. He argues that the brothel model based on trafficked girls is more vulnerable than generally imagined.

What i found interesting is the comment by brothel owners that they would make more money running grocery (rice) store and would be more respected!  Opening up more attractive alternatives is surely one way to move forward. Increase economic freedom, right?

Some brothels try to control girls through sheer violence and fear. And Kristof rightly points out that the cost of achieving compliance through violence is high–girls are not as pleasant, they cananot go out to hotels which earns more money, and so on.  If violence is more costly than non-violent means of monitoring then in a competitive market, the brothels that use violence should get out-competed.  If that is so, then the brothels that traffick and thereby have to resort to more violence than the brothels that have more ‘willing’ girls, the latter should outcompete the former. Is this realistic application of competitive market process? How do we know?

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The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.