What did we learn from the Nick Kristoff show?


Warning: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/whatcro0/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ssg-wordpress-google-audio-player/ssg_google_audio.php on line 85

Warning: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/whatcro0/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ssg-wordpress-google-audio-player/ssg_google_audio.php on line 85

Warning: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/whatcro0/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ssg-wordpress-google-audio-player/ssg_google_audio.php on line 85

Warning: sizeof(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/whatcro0/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ssg-wordpress-google-audio-player/ssg_google_audio.php on line 85

I decided to wait a little while before blogging about this one. I wanted to see how things panned out after NY Times columnist Nick Kristoff live Tweeted a raid on a Cambodian brothel (see his article on the raid here). It came out of the blue, for me at least. One moment I was casually reading Tweets, the next I was drawn into what felt like a Sylvester Stallone movie, complete with AK-47s, corrupt military officers, a potential shootout and of course the girls who were rescued from a life of imprisonment.

But now that the dust has settled on this one, what did we really gain from Nick Kristoff putting himself in the centre of the story? As it happened, my first thought was that a harrowing tale was unfolding before my eyes on social media. But then it felt strange, as if something weren't quite right.

The scene was presented in black and white, limited to 140 characters per Tweet. Kristoff and a team from the Somaly Mam Foundation turned up, things got early, the girls were found, Kristoff had to leg it, everyone lived happily ever after. Kristoff himself, as ever, was a large of the tale — no casual observers here. The girls being rescued, who you'd think would have a major role in this epic, barely got a mention. But we knew they were rescued, so everything was going to be all right, right?

By itself perhaps this isn't enough to get the daggers out just yet, but it was the followup that grated a few people the wrong way. See these Tweets if you will (nod to Laura Agustin here):

In Anlong Veng, Cambodia, 6 more brothels have closed since the raid I live-tweeted there that rescued a seventh-grader.

In part, that’s the power of Twitter. And the fear of traffickers that they could be next to face wrath of @*SomalyMam*

Seems a little boastful to me. Is it really the power of Twitter? Are we all saved now? Six brothels closed and then what? What happened to the women/girls/other involved? Will they reopen elsewhere? Were people arrested? Does this make any difference? I don't know the answers to these questions and Kristoff doesn't say.

Agustin has another post on this that's worth a read:

As we say nowadays, it’s all about Kristof: his experience, terror, angst, confusion, guilt, desire. Those found in the jungle or brothel are objects in a theatrical drama in which he plays the central role. Did anyone saved in those recent brothel raids want to be rescued as they were, with the results that came about, whatever they were? That is what we do not know, and as far as I can see, we are not going to find out from Kristof or In These Times.

We can't deny that Kristoff has raised the profile of a number of important issues being faced in Cambodia at the moment, but with such a large readership comes a responsibility to show the complexities of the situation. But are the critics being unfair here? Is it better to have a Kristoff in Cambodia rather than none at all? The jury is out. What do readers think?

Social media buttons:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *