Human Trafficking and Cambodia as a Transit Origin

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In order to under the human trafficking, I would like to define the term human trafficking. What is human trafficking? Human trafficking refers to the way of illegal transporting, transferring, harboring, coercing, and abducting from one place to another place at the corner of the world. Particularly, human trafficking is serious problem in the globe and region. Moreover, human trafficking is also related to the exploitation over the vunerable girls and women for the benefits only. . Nowadays, human trafficking is a very deep concern at global, regional, and state level. Importantly, human trafficking is considered as a crime that all states have attempted to deal with it. Human trafficking is the cancer of development in Cambodia because Cambodian government has spent hard efforts in order to curb it. In addition to barrier of development, human trafficking causes the worse human rights issue, and dignity as well as freedom has been deteriorated in Cambodian society for a long time. Cambodia is a source, transit, and recipient country for human trafficking. Notably, the traffickers are organized criminal groups, parents, relatives, friends, partners (a boyfriend or a girlfriend), and neighbors. Interestingly, Cambodian men, women, and children are trafficked for sexual and labor exploitations in Thailand, Malaysia, Macao, Taiwan, and Vietnam. For instance, men are trafficked for working in the agriculture, fishing, and construction industries. Simultaneously, women become sex slaves; furthermore, they also become workers (under difficult pressure) in factories, or they work as domestic servants. Furthermore, Cambodian children are very pitiful because they are coerced by traffickers to work very hard a whole day. For example, Cambodian children have been sent to both Thailand and Vietnam in order to beg money, to sell goods and flowers on the street, and especially to polish shoes. Beside this, Cambodia is a transit country for victims trafficked from Vietnam to Thailand. Moreover, Cambodia is recipient country for women and children who are trafficked from Vietnam to China for sexual exploitation. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanouk provinces are the common places for trafficking victims.

Cambodia also has internal trafficking of women and children from rural to urban areas for sexual exploitation. Because of unemployment, Cambodian people believe that they will be working as domestic servants, yet they are later cheated or forced into prostitution. According to the Asian Migration Center (2002), International Organization for Migration (2004), Thailand and Vietnam were major destination places for migrant workers. In particular, Thailand is a major destination in Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). For example, Cambodian migrants were encouraged due to the fact that they would be able to earn more in Vietnam and Thailand, but later they became the sex slaves and forced labor in those countries. In other words, Cambodian people have moved to Thailand and Vietnam because of socio-economic imbalance between Cambodia and both countries. For example, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was the serious case. By September 2009, 77 garment factories closed which put 30,683 people out of work. This increased the internal and external Cambodian migrations to find various jobs in order to survive. Therefore, those people, especially women and children have been trafficked into the sex industry and factory workers or domestic servants. In order to deal with this problem, the Royal Government of Cambodia and NGOs have many policies to solve the problem of human trafficking by establishing reintegration programs to help those victims. Many factors have contributed to the successful reintegration process, including in the crucial areas of job training and employment. There are more important mechanisms, but I would like to mention them on the next section. Is the reintegration process successful? Sometimes, we ourselves must know the main problem behind this issue. There are many contributing factors, as I mentioned above, that have led to the practice of human trafficking in Cambodia. In order to combat human trafficking, corruption should be reduced or eliminated, and especially the accountability, transparency and law enforcement should also be strengthened strongly and thoroughly in dealing with this trouble.

II. The causes of human trafficking in Cambodia

Nowadays, there are many causes of human trafficking in Cambodia. The number of human trafficking in Cambodia has increased because of poverty, low education, socio-economic imbalance in the country and between county and country, forcing by the parents, cheating by brokers, and tourism. Poverty is the main root cause of human trafficking. Due to their extreme poverty, 34 percent of Cambodians learn less than US$ 1 per day (UNICEF, 2005), they could not live in their villages anymore; therefore, they decided to find jobs in the city. As a result, they can become the victims of human trafficking in urban areas since they know nothing about the city. In addition to this, the socio-economic imbalance between Cambodia and its neighbors has pushed many Cambodians across the borders to Vietnam and Thailand. They think that jobs in those countries can help them to survive; however, they are cheated by the brokers. For example, Sophea was trafficked from rural Cambodia to a brothel in Thailand, Aranyaprathet, when she was only fourteen, (World Vision, n.d). Interestingly, she was taken there by a woman who she believed could be her mother-in-law, yet everything was not like her belief; as a result, she was trafficked as a sex slave in the brothel. In addition, this is a similar case in Thailand as well. Mr. Vanna, 19 years old, was transported to Thailand to work as a mango and watermelon distributor. The money he could earn was from 25,000R to 30.000(US$6 to US$8) per day. His employer said that he would pay all his monthly salary after Mr. Vanna went home but his boss never did. Beside this, low education also contributes to human trafficking since low educated people are not suitable for the jobs which are safe, so they are easily trapped by traffickers. For example, Vuthy came from poor family. He stopped studying when he was in fifth grade, he decided to go to Thailand as a goods distributor at the market. In contrast, he was coerced to work for long hours without enough food and rest. Beside this, some children including boys and girls are cheated by their parents or relatives very pitifully to Vietnam and Thailand. There are many serious cases, but I would like to mention only one case. For instance, Tin has been begging money for serveral years on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. He said that, he had been trafficked by his uncle when he was 13 years old that he would work in a small enterprise and that he would recieve a good salary; however, his boss never did so. If Tin did not bring the total amount of money to his boss, he was beaten and left without food at all. Another hot issue of human trafficking is that the rapid increased tourism. This means that most of the foreingers who come to Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, lao PDR, and Indonesia are seeking new women and children, and especially young girls in Cambodia to have sex with them; as a result, this is a good chance for fraffickers to cheat or trape young Camboidan women and girls in return of thousands of dollars from those foriegners . Cambodia is still the hot destination of tourism. The most interesting places for foriengers are Phnom Penh, Siem Riep, Sihanouk , Koh Kong, and Poipet.

III. Human trafficking in Cambodia impact on poolitical and economic polices, and society

The human trafficking is still the problem in Cambodia. It leads to many troubles which government has concerned for a long time. Human trafficking can affect three important fields such as politics, economics, and social issue. First, I would like to mention on the politics. Why is human trafficking relevant to politics? This is the serious problem if the government cannot curb or eliminate human traffikcing as strong as possible it can lead more difficulties for the government. This means that the government must spend hard effort and a lof of money in dealing with this issue. A number of issues which are relevant to the politics are social wefare of its own people, social networks, and so on . Thus, if the human trafficking still happens in Cambodia, the government cannot fucntion well in term of improving its own politics. For instance, the large amount of money are spent on engagging in some activities to help trafficking victims incluing safe, facilitate reintegration with working places, shelter, medical, vocantional training and so on. Second, human traffiking is affect the economic policies of the government. The foreign investors will not choose the country which has human trafficking because they think that a counrty which has a human trafficking is hard to run their businesses effectively and effieciently since the places where they run their businesses are insecuirty. Additionally, human trafficking is the potential obstacle of economic development since the national budgets are spent on compating human trafflciking; therefore, the government lacks of money to build infrastructures such as roads, brigdes, and so on. When the country lacks of good infrastructures, it cannot attract the FDI effectively and efficiently. To some extend, Singapore is a good case. Singapore does not have human trafficking, and it can build good infrastructures which attract more FDI into its country.

The interesting point , which human trafficking affects the society, is that women who became the prostitution are always discriminated by other people, and especially when girls and women who are coerced into the commercial sex industry have had less rights to require the use of condoms by clients and consequently infected with HIV/AIDS. According to the UNAIDS 2004 report, the HIV epidemics are fostered by sex industry; thus, a number of prostitutes and sex trafficking completely spread HIV/AIDS (UNAID, 2004). The spread of HIV/AIDS is so fast because of traditional Cambodian men who are polygamous. This means that Cambodian men keep the old tradition of multiple sexual partners who are sex workers. Moreover, human trafficking reduces the women's value and culture in Cambodia. For example, people always look down or discriminate the victims either women or young girls who were coerced into sex slaves. In my point of view, Cambodian people should not discriminate those pitiful women and young girls. If I was not wrong, I did a lot of literature review on this issue almost 70 percentage of those victims were traded by their relatives, namely parents and uncles due to the extreme poverty and some victims by cruel brokers.

IV. Cambodian government responds to this issue.

How could Cambodian government reduce human trafficking in Cambodia?

In Cambodia, the Comission of human rights has afforded very hard to deal with human trafficking in Cambodia with strong help from the government. The Comission of human rights in Cambodia has conducted a series of effective researches across the country to give the knowleged combating the human trafficking such as helding a domestic workshop and given the the understanding and implementing the law of human trafficking in Cambodia. Furthermore, the government has offered some care center and studied places for the various children such as street childten and orphans in order to maintain them away from the eyes of traffickers. In respond to the curb the human trafficking in Cambodia, the ministry of Social, Labor and Veterans Affairs has implemented a series of mechanisms in institutions. Interestingly, as I have mentioned previously, majorities of the Cambodian victims are not well-educated; thus, the governmnet thinks that the effective way of expanding the knowlegde to aviod the human trafficking in Cambodia is inlududing the children's rights of education at every school throughout the country. Furthermore, Government has created many and effective development plans whcih are financed by actors such as ADB, UNDP, and so on whcih mainly concern on the poverty alleviation in Cambodia because the government thinks that whenever the poverty is reduced the the human trafficking is also decreased as I have given some main causes of human trafficking one of the human trafficking poverty is the main root cause in Cambodia. For example, in the rentangular strategies of the Cambodian government poverty reduction is the prioritized policy. Interestingly,the Cambodian Migration and Development Committee (CMDC) which is located in Battambang province has hold the vocational training for young girls women that is related to the avoiding and understanding about human trafficking . The government also concerns about the victims' health. For instatnce, in 1992, Cambodian National AIDS Commission of the Ministry of Health has worked cooperately with some NGOs in order to provide the kowelagde of HIV or AIDS and health for many prostitutes in some domestic medical centers. Then, those sanatoriums has assisted a number of girls and women who are prostitutes with good health care, and then tried to ecourage those vitims to go away from prostituitions. The most effective and effiecient method is that the government and NGOs has created one strategy which is the face to face consulting with prostitutes in the brothels compounds. In addition, the prostitutes are taught by NGO workers about how to bring good health to the victims. For instace, that NGO taught those how to have good hygien. Anonther way was that the NGO advised the prostitutes to provide this knowlegde to other women whoc are not know about it. Moreover, in 1998, Cambodian government establish the Ministry of Women's and Veterans' Affairs (MWVA) which was created in 1998 in order to strengthen the rules, norms, and status for women.

NGOs and AESEAN's role in combating human trafficking.

There are many effective NGOs which are concern so much about this problem in Cambodia. For example, World Vision has anti-trafficking initiatives across the region . Among them there are two multi-country projects which functions througout and cross the borders- an acknowledgement that human traffickinhg issues are transnational in nature. These means that in order to combat human trafficking one state one cannot deal effectively and efficiently. One state must cooperate with other states in order to eliminate the human trafficking within particular state or even in the region. In order to curb human trafficking, one vital and effective way is that the perpetrators are prosecuted strongly punished.

Many victims have been forcefully expal on the basis of their illegal migrant status. World Vision is working to educate and inform authorities to both police and border officials about trafficking and how to notice and process victims fairly and with sensibility. Another important NGO is Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC). It tries to promote knowledge on women's rights to both women and men, so that they may consider women's rights as human rights and know women's rights violations. Furthermore, in order to combat huamn trafficking, LICAHO has fostered the human rights in Cambodia. Finally, ASEAN also plays a very important role in helping to curb human trafficking in the region and , especially in Cambodia. ASEAN members come together to help reduce human trafficking in the region. For example, there are many mechanisms or laws to curb human trafficking in Cambodia or the region as a whole. For example, in 1998, the members of ASEAN got the Hanoi Plan of Action for curbing the human trafficking. Another example is that in 2002, all the countries in ASEAN concured with a Work Programme to Implement the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime, especially the human trafficking.

V. Conclusion

In conclusion, human trafficking still happens in Cambodian society. In order to compact this issue, it is not an easy task. In other words, Cambodia cannot address this problem alone. This means that Cambodia must cooperate with NGOs and IGOs, especially ASEAN to eliminate the human trafficking in the region. As I have mentioned above, human trafficking impacts political, economic policies, and society. This can be certain that Cambodian government must enforce and implement human trafficking strictly and thoroughly in dealing with this issue. Furthermore, the government must put much pressure on the traffickers who violate the freedom, dignity, and rights of Cambodian people as strong as possible. For my own perspective, Cambodia is a nation, which experienced the long civil war, and became the poor country, in the region. I mean that Cambodia and NGOs and IGOS must focus on education system in order to eliminate human trafficking. This can sure that when people have high education, good jobs, and good living standard, those will not be easily cheated by the traffickers. Another point, which the government and Cambodian partners should try to eliminate human trafficking, is corruption. Even though government has strong or strict laws or a series of mechanisms, the human trafficking will be problematic in Cambodia due to the corruption. The government must prosecute the corrupted police border officers who take the bribe from the brokers. I am strongly optimistic that hope Cambodia will develop well when human trafficking is eliminated gradually from day to day. Now corruption law is created. We, Cambodians should support and respect the corruption law strictly.

Importantly, even I and other Cambodian citizens should not discriminate or hate those people, who became the sex slaves, beggars, constructors, and so on. I am really optimistic that those also want to have a good living standard, better education, and a lot of wealthy like all of us, especially they need the same rights and freedom in the society. This means that they are not born to be the slaves of someone else. Sometimes, we must concentrate deeply and carefully on this issue. This means that they do not want to do such kinds of jobs. As a result, we should respect human rights and laws and give value to those pitiful people, and remember do not discriminate them. If Cambodians have a kind of this idea, Cambodian people will live in harmony, prosperity, and happiness.


1. n_Cambodia.pdf