By Cassandra Clifford
Wednesday, September 2
Children around the world are forced into the sex trade, very often by their own families, mislead by promises of economic opportunity or pushed by desperation. The commercial sex industry is fueled by poverty, but driven by demand and while the issue of poverty must be addressed, so must the those who prey on women and children such as through the sex tourism industry.
One of the many countries ravished by sex trafficking is Cambodia. Organizations such , as UNICEF, ECPAT and Save the Children, estimate that there are anywhere from from 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls in the sex trade in Cambodia. Of those in the commercial sex industry in the country many are children, some as young as only a few years old. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “the majority (52.2%) of female sex trafficking survivors identified were under the age of 17 at the time of trafficking”.
As the global recession continues, children are increasingly vulnerable to sex trafficking. In Phnom Penh, which has about a quarter of the countries sex industry, children who are begging and peddling are increasingly at risk. Many children roam around the city’s Riverside were pedophiles and human traffickers are also known to prey on their innocence.
Little girls who should be giggling and playing with dolls are offering sex in child like terms with happy smiles, “yum-yum, boom-boom”. The normality of it all what is more shocking as children, some as young as four or six, who know nothing other than a life of sex and exploitation. A child who knows more about sex than toys, who think that grown men everywhere desire little girls as their play things…this is the sad reality that is life for many children in Cambodia and across the globe.
In February 2008 the Cambodian government enacted a “Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation”, which was done mostly after years of pressure from the United States. One such form of pressure coming from the US was the country’s low ratings on the State Departments notorious TIP Report, the 2009 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, placed Cambodia on the Tier 2 Watch List. Following the country’s first step to use legal means to impact and deter trafficking, they imposed ban on foreign marriages, in March 2008. The ban was enacted largely in response to a sharp increase in marriages between South Korean men and poor Cambodian women, many who were not destined to newly wedded bliss, but a life forced into sexual slavery. Since the law was enacted Cambodian authorities have conducted numerous raids and cracked down on street prostitution, however the crack down according to many non-profits, has done little to help the actual situation, let alone the victims.
For more eye opening incite into the Cambodian sex trade and those whom it takes as its victims in its unrelenting path, see the following video:
Women and girls are not the only victims of trafficking and slavery in Cambodia, nor is the sex industry the only exploitative industry the country has to a great deal of work to do in order to combat. One such area is labor, such as seen in the recent SIREN case analysis: Cambodian men and boys exploited on long-haul fishing boats, English PDF