THE CAUSE: Addressing Trafficking and Exploitation in SE Asia

-LEARN_TO_DO_RIGHT__SEEK_JUSTICE_DEFEND_(28).pngCambodia is a nation facing overwhelming problems of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. It serves as an origin, transit and destination country for victims of trafficking in persons, commonly for the purpose of commercial sex work. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Founded in 2005, ACCI Partner Chab Dai works in Cambodia to address trafficking abuse and exploitation through NGO collaboration and informed practice. Chab Dai currently has 50 faith-based member organisations who all work towards addressing this issue, and who are supported by Chab Dai to build their capacity and work towards best practice. By investing into these organisations Chab Dai is assisting to raise the level of care provided to survivors and those at risk of being trafficked or exploited. 

In addition to capacity building with member organisations, Chab Dai also runs a community-based program to protect vulnerable members of the Vietnamese community residing in Cambodia, especially women and girls.

The Vietnamese Prevention Project began in September 2008 to address the domestic trafficking of Vietnamese girls for sexual exploitation from urban slums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Some of the unique vulnerability factors for the ethnic Vietnamese communities include discrimination, statelessness, low literacy levels and a complete lack of formal child protection or legal intervention structures. This takes place within the context of general poverty and the psychological burden of uncertainty and insecurity accompanying it.

Research suggests that 30-40% of these ethnic-Vietnamese families do sell a child for sex; and that more families consider this as an option than actually follow-through with the sale. Despite this, community perceptions of prostitution as a viable income source seem to stem from resignation, rather than wholehearted acceptance of the work as legitimate, constructive, or desirable.

Chab Dai’s Vietnamese Prevention Project has a goal to support leaders of ethnic Vietnamese communities to protect children who are at risk of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Over a twelve month period, the project aims to train a total of 116 groups (40 people per group) across three Cambodian provinces and Phnom Penh. This will reach a total of about 4,500 people trained.

The training is delivered directly to communities by small groups for half a day and covers the following topics:

• How to work together to protect and intervene on behalf of the children in the community.

• Good parenting skills.

• The value of children and how they can protect themselves.

• Sex tourism – The issue of paedophilia.

• How to help children who have been sexually abused and exploited.

• Help cards – Telephone numbers for reporting perpetrators and for victim assistance.

Chab Dai also supports Vietnamese Churches and communities to protect and intervene on behalf of children at risk of sexual abuse and trafficking. Since receiving training, pastors, commune chiefs and key community stakeholders have a renewed passion for protecting the most vulnerable in their communities. Chab Dai has seen these community leaders go on to train thousands of villagers on trafficking issues. Furthermore, they have confronted traffickers, followed up cases with the assistance of Chab Dai and other human rights organisations, and spoken out in their villages about the problem.

It is so encouraging to see these participants advocate on both moral and justice issues within their own communities, and to bring about greater protection for vulnerable women and girls by placing equal value on the worth and dignity of all people.