A group of women walked down the street: 4 foreigners and a Thai girl. Women tourists were always walking past, looking at her, usually with cameras. She supposed they found it amusing to see men groping her; seeing what it looks like to be worthless, trashy and the lowest of society. Some looked disapproving and she knew it was aimed at her, but what could she do? Of course she knew he was married. She’d seen the glint of his ring as the light bounced off it and felt the cold metal contrasting with his clammy hand against her skin as he rubbed her bottom, but if she said “No”, the Mamasan would slap her again. It was her job to make him happy, no matter what he wanted to do. Anyway, she had stopped looking at women’s faces a while back, it was only the men she needed to entice.
The Thai girl from the group of women approached her Mamasan as the foreigners hovered close by. She moved in to hear what they were talking about. Why would these women be here? What could they want? Are they lesbians? ‘Please don’t buy me’, she thought.
Could it be true? A Christmas party with no men and they were willing to pay her bar fine? Her friend was telling her that the party last year was fun. With the Mamasan’s permission, she cautiously agreed to go, as long as her friends went too.
Five of them went off to get dressed and came back fifteen minutes later to find one of the foreign women, Leah, waiting for them and smiled as they approached. Leah seemed nice. But then, clients often do at first.
Getting to the hotel where the party was, took a long walk. She had heels on and her feet hurt but she kept smiling as Leah chatted away.
Finally entering the hotel, she saw him. Her face dropped. “There are men here? I HATE men!” She spat through gritted teeth. Leah assured her that he was just a friend helping her and would not be joining them for the party. The party was for her and her friends to have fun – no men.
Cautiously she moved forward but everything was as Leah had said! There were crafts and games – she particularly liked musical chairs and limbo, small gifts, a famous singer performed, and some girls did karaoke; she was enjoying herself so much she didn’t even notice that it was a man who had jumped onto the platform. ‘That man speaking is from my village! He’s so funny.’ She thinks as she looks across at Leah who is looking around smiling and catches her eye. Leah shrugs, and she laughs. ‘Leah doesn’t seem to understand anything, perhaps this really is for me!’
As waiters serve the meal she is glad to be sitting with her friends though she notices girls from other bars at tables around her laughing and having fun. A Thai woman, Ann, takes the mic and introduces girls who used to work in bars like hers. Ann talks about a Home where she could go and finish her education, some of those girls have already graduated! She takes a photo of the phone number on the screen, after all, you never know.
The evening draws to a close with a raffle and Ann picks out names of girls winning prizes. She is disappointed because her friend won a prize and she didn’t, but suddenly Leah reaches under the table and reveals a bag with presents for everyone at the table. She received make-up!
Grinning happily to herself she heads home thinking about the evening, pushing away the twinge of guilt that she did not make any money tonight to send back to her family, but she did have fun. Maybe she will call that number tomorrow and see if she can go to that home. Maybe she can finish her education. Maybe they will take her sister too so she doesn’t have to work in the bar!
Tomorrow she will call Ann and see if there is actually hope in this hell that freezer van had brought her to.
~~~> In case you missed it, click here for Part 1! <~~~
*** Disclaimer: Details have been changed to protect identities.