Nana Plaza is the world’s largest sex complex.
Visiting was like walking into a living hell. Nothing I write will be able to convey how disturbing it was. It was like something out of a horror movie--except it was real.
As I walked in, I noticed a man walking toward me through the shadows. His clothes were disheveled and his eyes were ruthless and chilling. With a smirk, he looked me up and down like I was for sale. I felt violated just making eye contact with him. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest and my face getting hotter as I clenched my fists and tried to suppress my rage. It was a small taste of the hell lots of people endure daily. I set my eyes straight ahead on the ground in front of me and promised myself I wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone else.
Nana is a couple stories high, and is completely enclosed except for a small entrance on one side of the complex. In the middle is a large shrine where sex workers leave offerings in hopes of getting high-paying customers. The first few stories are filled with brothels and bars, and the top story has motels that rent rooms at hourly rates. Late in the night as the bars start to close, traffickers bring out their victims to auction them off.
The further I walked into this nightmare, the darker it became. Each story was grimmer than the last. In the other red light districts I’ve visited, prostitution is glamorized. The women put on big, fake smiles to attract more customers. But in Nana, the women don’t have to sell themselves. Other people sell them. Outside each brothel and bar, pimps and madams rally customers. Inside, customers do as they please.
I saw things I wish I could unsee.
The stench of sweat and stale cigarettes hung in the heavy air. I clung to my teammate’s arm as greasy customers brushed against me on the crowded sidewalk. I tried to tune out the sound of pimps and madams screaming at me to come into their bars. It was suddenly too much to bear. I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. I felt sick to my stomach. I had to get out of there.
Thankfully, I was able to leave as easily as I’d come. My heart aches for people who aren’t so fortunate, who are exploited or trafficked, whose daily realities aren’t within their own control. My heart breaks for the pain they endure.
If your heart is broken for people trapped in the cycle of prostitution and you’d like to support the ministry I’ve been working with, you can do so through this link: https://warinternational.org/donate/ (choose "missionary" and "Killar" from the drop-down menu.)
Thanks for stopping by. A little about me — I have a latte each morning and drink about 7 cups of tea a day (not exaggerating.) I live in Atlanta where I'm going to law school. I like long distance running and I love my city and I love exploring our beautiful earth. I believe in following our passions & being free.
I started this blog to document and share my favorite moments while traveling. This is a place where I process my ideas, share the aches and joys of my heart, speak truth, and shine light on the beauty I see in the world.
I've realized that what I probably love most about traveling is the same thing I love about writing — the way it connects me to myself and other people. I hope as you read my words, you feel connected to our shared humanity.
Thank you for reading. :)
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