A Cambodian talk show drew international outrage after tricking a 13-year-old girl into believing she will be reunited with her estranged mom.
Autumn Allen, a young pop singer from Cambodia, was invited to appear in the Mother’s Day episode of the TV talk show Penh Chet Ort (Like It or Not).
During an interview with the segment hosts, an emotional Allen revealed she has not seen her mom since she was 6 years old. The young girl disclosed she was separated from her mother when she and her father moved from the United States to Cambodia.
She even told the audience it would be “a dream come true” to be reunited with her mother.
The show’s hosts promised to fulfill the young girl’s dream. But instead of reuniting Allen with her long-lost mother, a cross-dressing comedian Chuop Rolin emerged from backstage for the big reveal.
One of the hosts even asked Allen: “What are you thinking, did you think it was real?”
To which a giggling Allen replied: “I don’t know.”
Heartless Prank Sparks Social Media Outrage
The show’s stunt quickly became viral and earned the ire of netizens in various social media platforms all over the world.
Ou Virak, a Cambodian human rights activist wrote on Facebook: “The producer was stupid and brainless and heartless by playing around with the mind and heart of a 13 year old girl in this way.”
He even condemned the use of a gay person in the prank.
“It is also time to stop the senseless “comedy” of screaming and making fun of gay people. It’s discriminatory, it’s not funny when lives are affected,” he wrote on Facebook.
Despite being disappointed, Allen claimed she had fun doing the show and insisted the network behind it meant no harm.
“Initially I was disappointed, but Rolin made me laugh so I had fun on the show,” she told Phnom Penh Post.
Show Producers Issue Apology
To put an end to the controversy, Allen shared a copy of a letter of apology from the show’s network, myTV.
As for Allen, the young singer is still hoping to reconnect with her mother in the future.
Watch the full video below.