The arrows illustrates the transportation routes Pilarna

Cambodia has long been a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.

The traffickers are reportedly organized crime syndicates, or the victims parents, relatives, friends, intimate partners or neighbors.

Some children are sold by their own parents, others are attracted by what they believe are legitimate job offers as waiters, but are then forced into prostitution. Before that, they are held captive, beaten, and may starve for a while.

Human trafficking is a crime in Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia says they are working to completely eliminate trafficking in the country. They do not yet satisfy the basic requirements for the protection of trafficking victims and the minimum requirements of the elimination of trafficking.

A study by UNICEF found that 35 percent of Cambodia’s 15,000 prostitutes are children under the age of 16. Almost all the brothels in Cambodia are owned by Vietnamese people. Voluntary prostitutes usually come from Vietnam, while sex slaves being held against their will are from different ethnic groups.

Trafficking of men usually involves forced labor in agriculture, fishing and construction industries. Women are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labor in factories or as domestic servants. Children are sold for sexual exploitation and forced labor in organized begging teams, soliciting and street vending, often selling stolen goods.

The most common destinations for trafficking victims are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Procurers have orders to keep children who are virgins captured and not put them to work until a number of bidders, such as high- ranking military officers, politicians, businessmen and foreign tourists, have been presented.

Young girls working in brothels receive no money, only food. They are supervised by armed guards that prevent them from escaping. They are often held captive, beaten and starved before they are forced into prostitution.

There are reports of an occasion where a young girl was beaten to death by her ”owners” in a brothel in Svay in the Battambang district. It is quite certain that there are more than one who have lost their lives, and also that the police or the authorities never want to know the facts.

Children only five years old are sold as sex slaves. Some estimates say, each year hundreds of thousands of boys and girls are kidnapped, bought, sold or being forced to have sex with men. Several organizations operating in Cambodia report that as many as a third of the victims of trafficking related to prostitution are children.

Sisters Naren and Sitthy, 10 and 12 years old, lived in Phnom Pehn. Their parents agreed to get paid in exchange for their daughters, who would be sexually exploited by a German national renting an apartment. There, he abused the girls and documented it on video.

newSong_6GroupA-350Between 2009 and 2012, 94 foreign child sex offenders was arrested in Cambodia, according to MOI reports. This including some very famous people who also appear frequently in the media.

From 2006 to 2012, the government accused several police officials for trafficking related corruption offenses. The former deputy chief of police for the trafficking and juvenile delinquency department was convicted of complicity in trafficking and got sentenced to five years in prison.

Two officials who worked under his supervision were sentenced to seven years imprisonment each. In January 1997, a law was established to curb trafficking in women, with fines of up to twelve thousand dollars and imprisonment of up to 20 years for procurers and brothel owners. In 2008, the government introduced a law on combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation, which criminalizes all forms of trafficking.

Cambodia has signed several international conventions that prohibit trafficking and exploitation of women and children. It has continued to assist U.S. law enforcement agencies in extraditing Americans who sexually exploits children in Cambodia.

December 12 is the National Anti- trafficking day in Cambodia. There are a number of non-governmental and non-profit organizations in the country that work to combat human trafficking, among others AFESIP, Somaly Mam Foundation, Hagar International and ECPAT.

In addition there are a number of small local organizations that have education as the basis and makes a lot of work gone.

Nevertheless, Cambodia remains a country plagued by human trafficking and forced labor for men, women and children.