How Young Is too Young to Be a Prize Fighter?

How Young Is too Young to Be a Prize Fighter? - The Business of Muay Thai Martial Arts in Thailand (print version without photos) - ABC News, October, 2007
...Meanwhile, Nong Pet's situation worsens during the time Kellstein films her — she was forced to take an exhibition match in a brothel, accepting tips from Westerners.
Although he wasn't sure about the long-term effects of Muay Thai on children, Kellstein ultimately found it to be an economic necessity. "I don't think we really understand it," he told Vargas. "We don't have poverty on that level."
...Regarding child labor, Mead stressed that in many countries it's unusual if children don't have to do serious work. "The idea that childhood is a time of play and of education is something that 200 years ago almost nobody in the world had," he said.
Is it really just Western sensibilities that make Americans shocked to see young girls punching each other without head gear as adults bet on them?
"We, Americans, we live in kind of a bubble-wrapped world and our kids live in a bubble-wrapped world," Mead said. "Life out there in much of the world has choices that we can hardly imagine. & Thailand has a very large commercial sex industry, so in that sense it's progress if girls are going to the fighting ring rather than the brothel. You have to hope that some years from now they won't be going to either one."
For his part, Kellstein said he no longer gets angry about parents allowing their children to fight. "The thing I get angry about is that there is so much inequality in the world and that economic situations like this arise," he said. "These circumstances exist and we should think of ways to make it better for everyone. Not just in Thailand, but everywhere."
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