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Srey Neth

There are an estimated 261,000 people living in modern slavery in Cambodia (GSI 2018). The country was renowned as a sex tourism destination in the 1990s and this legacy is still prevalent today with women and girls trafficked within the thriving sex industry in Cambodia's major cities. Despite significant attempts to curb CSE, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels. Boys and young men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, with many entering the massage industry due to a lack of training and skills.  Srey Neth is a young Cambodian victim of human trafficking. In this story she speaks of her experience transitioning from victim to survivor. At 14 she was sold by her mother to a pimp for $300; a week later he sold her virginity for the same price then he forced her to serve 10-20 men per night afterwards. Her refusal was met with beatings or electrocution. Srey Neth was later rescued by police and a non-governmental organization. During her recovery, which unsurprisingly has taken more than five years, she was diagnosed with HIV.

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Somaly

There are an estimated 261,000 people living in modern slavery in Cambodia (GSI 2018). All of Cambodia's 25 provinces are sources for human trafficking. Cambodian women and girls move from rural areas to cities and tourist destinations where they are subjected to sex trafficking in brothels, beer gardens, massage parlors and salons. Cambodian men form the largest source of demand for children exploited in prostitution, although men from across the world travel to the country to engage in child sex tourism.  Somaly grew up an orphan and at 12 years old was sold to a brothel. She was forced to provide sexual services for 20-30 men a day. Somaly finally escaped after seeing her friend killed by the brothel pimp. Somaly has set up the Somaly Mam Foundation and AFESIP to save girls from a life she once lived. She has built 3 rescue centres in Cambodia that currently houses 200 girls. 

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Samnang & Sopheak

Cambodia remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Cambodian adults and children migrate to other countries within the region and increasingly to the Middle East for work; many are subjected to forced labour on fishing vessels, in agriculture, in construction, in factories and in domestic servitude—often through debt bondage. Significant numbers of male Cambodians continued to be recruited in Thailand to work on fishing boats and subjected to forced labor on Thai-owned vessels in international waters. Cambodian victims escaping from this form of exploitation have been identified in Malaysia, Indonesia, Mauritius, Fiji, Senegal, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea. Cambodian men reported severe abuses by Thai captains, deceptive recruitment, underpaid wages, and being forced to remain aboard vessels for years.  In 2010, two brothers Samnang and Sohpeak left their home and country to find work they hoped would help their struggling family. The brothers were deceived and trafficked on to fishing boats where they were forced to work long hours with no rest and subjected to physical abuse.

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Bella B

Cambodia was renowned as a sex tourism destination in the 1990s and this legacy is still prevalent today with women and girls trafficked within the thriving sex industry in Cambodia's major cities. Despite significant attempts to curb CSE, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels. Boys and young men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, with many entering the massage industry due to a lack of training and skills.  Bella was 12 years old when she was trafficked and forced to be a sex worker in Cambodia. 

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Yum

Men, women and children are victims of human trafficking for forced labour in the Thai fishing industry. Enslaved people are subjected to physical abuse, excessive and inhumane working hours, sleep and food deprivation, forced use of methamphetamines and long trips at sea confined to the vessel. Due to the fishing industry relying on trans-shipments at sea to reduce expenditure, some find themselves trapped on long-haul trawlers for years at a time. This makes the monitoring of enslaves labour on fishing vessels costly and difficult. The Thai Government has faced severe pressure to tackle forced labour specifically in the fishing sector, with the European Commission threatening a trade ban in 2015 for not taking sufficient measures to combat illegal and unregulated fishing that would cause the loss of up to US$1.4million a year in seafood exports. As a result the Government have reportedly accelerated efforts to combat labour exploitation, however despite this most workers in the Thai fishing sectors remain unregistered.    Yum was in Cambodia looking for work when he decided to travel with friends to Thailand. On the way, they were met by a man who offered them work on his farm, which they accepted. They were forced to work long hours with no wages. After a month, the farmer fled and Yum was offered work on a construction site in Thailand. However, in Thailand Yum arrived not at a construction site but a sea port. It was only after days on a fishing vessel that he was told he had been sold. Subjected to months at sea with poor nutrition and daily beatings, Yum was finally able to escape one the boat reached Indonesian waters. 

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Posvak

Cambodia remains a source country for the exploitation of men, women and children in all forms of modern slavery including forced labour, debt bondage and forced marriage. Cambodian women eager to escape impoverished lives in rural villages are often deceived in to forced work on farms, as domestic workers or in factory jobs. Cambodian men are vulnerable due to their need to travel to secure employment. They are often subjected to forced labour on fishing vessels in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and in the manufacturing sector. Moreover, the increasing demand for cheap domestic workers in private homes in the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore, along with the possibility of tripled income has encouraged Cambodian women to travel abroad, often through informal channels for employment as maids, nannies and carers. The Government of Cambodia is making progress in combating trafficking. However this progress has been slow, and there are many challenges ahead. In 2014, the government released a five-year National Plan of Action (NPA) (2014—2018) devised by the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT). Posvak heard about a job on the radio doing housework overseas. She was told that she would work 8 hours a day, however upon arrival she was made to work around the clock for eleven different households, being given only 2 hours rest per day. Deprived of food and abused if she did not finish the work the house was set up with CCTV and Posvak was under constant supervision. Posvak was eventually able to escape when she was lent a phone to call her mother who then informed an anti-trafficking organisation in Cambodia

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Phalla

Cambodia was renowned as a sex tourism destination in the 1990s and this legacy is still prevalent today with women and girls trafficked within the thriving sex industry in Cambodia's major cities. Despite significant attempts to curb CSE, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels. Boys and young men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, with many entering the massage industry due to a lack of training and skills. “Phalla” studied to grade 12, then was sold to a brothel by her grandmother. Names have been changed to protect the survivors' privacy.

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Kolab

Kolab does not know who her real parents are. She studied to grade 5, then was forced to worked as a family servant, in a karaoke bar, and to sell drugs and sex. After eventually escaping successfully she tried to find work outside of the sex industry but could find no work, and so began work in a massage parlor brothel. Later she was able to leave the industry with the help of an NGO named AFESIP Cambodia. Names have been changed to protect the survivors' privacy.

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Bella C

Cambodia was renowned as a sex tourism destination in the 1990s and this legacy is still prevalent today with women and girls trafficked within the thriving sex industry in Cambodia's major cities. Despite significant attempts to curb CSE, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels. Boys and young men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, with many entering the massage industry due to a lack of training and skills. Bella was sold into sex slavery by a woman she met who recruited her for domestic work. Her story demonstrates the ways in which survivors can be supported by organisations to gain self-confidence and education, in order to avoid returning to situations of slavery.

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Amaya

Cambodia was renowned as a sex tourism destination in the 1990s and this legacy is still prevalent today with women and girls trafficked within the thriving sex industry in Cambodia's major cities. Despite significant attempts to curb CSE, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels. Boys and young men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation, with many entering the massage industry due to a lack of training and skills. Amaya’s story demonstrates that family problems and child abuse can lead to children turning to those who would sell or exploit them. After Amaya was rescued by the police she was referred to Hope for Justice and began her rehabilitation program. She worked through her trauma and began healing from the pain of her past. She began to discover a new dream for her future.

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Sina

Sina was born in Vietnam and enslaved in Cambodia, where she was forced into prostitution and drugged to become easier to control. Sina recalls that the Cambodian police, rather than help her home to Vietnam, took her to another brothel. At the time of narrating her story, she worked for the Somaly Mam Foundation as leader of its Voices for Change programme, and she reflects on both the satisfaction and difficulties of her work helping others escape their enslavement. Many Vietnamese women and children are misled by fraudulent employment opportunities and sold to brothel operators on the borders of China, Cambodia, and Laos, and elsewhere in Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. Some Vietnamese women who travel abroad for internationally brokered marriages or jobs in restaurants, massage parlors, and karaoke bars—mostly to China, Malaysia, and Singapore—are subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution.

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Dara

“Dara” was enslaved for sexual exploitation as a child in Cambodia. Here she discusses her enslavement and the psychological impact that this has had on her, explaining the difficulty of reintegrating into society after her enslavement, and that she feels “finished” and “dead.” She also talks about her work as a volunteer helping other survivors of slavery to train and take control over their lives. Despite significant attempts to curb the commercial sexual exploitation that Cambodia became famous for in the 1990s, NGOs report the industry has been pushed underground and sex offenders are still able to purchase sex with children through an intermediary rather than more overt selling of sex in brothels.

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Dalyn

Dalyn told her story at the age of 17 while living in a shelter. She was enslaved at the age of 12 after a woman made false promises of a job in a garment factory. Instead, she was sold to a brothel and abused physically and psychologically until the brothel owner was arrested and the children rescued by the AFESIP (Agir Pour La Femmes en Situation Précaire, Acting for Women in Precarious Siutations). Like many other survivors, she expresses a desire to tell her story in order to prevent the enslavement of others. Despite endemic corruption that contributes to slavery in various sectors in Cambodia, including with vulnerable demographics, the government has done little to investigate, prosecute or convict complicit officials.

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Chariya

Chariya became a child sex slave in Cambodia at age of seven, trafficked with her four-year-old sister. She was rescued after four years. She notes that the dreams of a “little girl” were over when she entered slavery. Her enslavement continues to cast a long shadow: freedom includes “nightmares.” Despite endemic corruption that contributes to slavery in various sectors in Cambodia, including with vulnerable demographics, the government has done little to investigate, prosecute or convict complicit officials.

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Chantha

Chantha became a child sex slave in Cambodia at age of 13. Freedom brought no restored sense of self: she observes that her life has “had no significance, no value” (though hopes that it might finally achieve “meaning” through the telling of her story). Instead, freedom brought rejection by her family, prostitution, AIDS, and—six months after she told her story—death from an AIDS-related illness.

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Dina

In 1993, Dina Chan was exploited in northern Cambodia. Women are internally trafficked for sexual exploitation in Cambodia, usually from rural areas to the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, and other secondary cities. Cambodian women are also brought to Thailand and Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation. An orphan who got into debt for overdue rent payments and tuition fees, Dina was trafficked from Phnom Penh to Stroeung Treng at the age of 17. Her narrative describes police corruption, starvation, and gang rape. She points out the irony that she fought for others’ freedoms as a soldier, “only to become enslaved,” and rejects the response of “pity” to her story. She also issues a call for prostitutes to unionize and “fight for basic rights.” On behalf of herself and her “sisters,” Dina demands recognition of her humanity: “We are people, we are women and we want to be treated with respect.”