Trafficking in Cambodia
There are many reasons why human trafficking exists in Cambodia. Human trafficking in Cambodia has increased because of a number of factors including poverty, social and economic imbalances between rural and urban areas, increased tourism, lack of employment, education, and poverty being the most significant cause of trafficking.
The aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970’s is still felt both psychologically and economically throughout Cambodia and plays a direct role in labour and sexual exploitation / trafficking. The upheaval caused by the Khmer Rouge conflict and lack of opportunities in rural areas has sparked a need for people to return to the cities and urban areas for work, areas that were once emptied by the Khmer rouge regime.
With well over half the population below the age of 20, Cambodia faces a growing problem of providing decent work for its young population, further increasing the drive toward cross-border migration for employment which heightens the vulnerability to human trafficking.
Children are born into poverty and sold for sex. And while the thousands of men, including westerners, flock to such regions for what they think is the purchase of prostitution and that’s the extent of their involvement, however by any definition in children this is called rape.
Women and children who have been forced into the sale of sex, all have hopes and dreams just as we do. The all want respect and to be loved and cared about. It is not too late for us to act and help those who have fallen victim to traffickers. If we act now and lend our hand, we can help put back hope in the hearts of those that have been affected by human trafficking.
The Virginity Trade
Virgins in Cambodia, who have been sold to brothels by trafficking agents, are confined to the brothel or a hotel room until the first client comes. This client is charged a much higher amount, due to the belief that having sex with a virgin has rejuvenating properties, such as acquiring pure white skin and attractive youthful appearance. Many Cambodians believe that having sex with a virgin can also cure aids and other diseases.
Advertised as “special commodities,” virgins are attractive to clients because they are less likely to have AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. The customers can pay as little as a few hundred dollars to have sex with the young woman or child for one week in a local hotel chosen by the brothel owner.
The enslaved girls must remain at the brothel until the debt to their purchaser is paid off, or else they face beatings. It is difficult, if not impossible to pay off this debt, since the owners consider the girls indebted to them for their ever increasing expenses for food, clothing, medical costs and abortions. As a result, a brothel owner will often hold a girl prisoner until she becomes too old or too ill to attract customers.