Child Labour & Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry affecting every nation in the world today. Across the globe, traffickers supply human beings for use in forced labour activities such as domestic service, work in brick kilns, sweatshops, cocoa plantations, or mines. Some are trafficked into the commercial sex industry.

Cambodia is a sending, receiving and transit country for trafficking, most often for the purpose of commercial sex, begging, domestic work, fishing, construction and adoption.

Victims of sex trafficking are sometimes tricked into believing that they are being recruited to work as domestic staff or waitresses. However, one of the main reasons why victims endure appalling work environments is the cultural obligation of children to financially support their parents and siblings. Families are often in dire straits because of poverty, illness, debt and financial difficulties - sadly, often the result of social problems such as parental alcoholism, gambling, and even materialism.

Girls are also at risk of being sold if they are raped or lose their virginity with little hope of finding a supportive husband. Parents may then see the girl's only value is to provide them with income through sex work.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmond Burke (18th century anti-slavery campaigner)

Child Labour Facts
  • Cambodia has the highest rates of child labour in all of East and Southeast Asia.

  • Contributing factors: Poverty, inadequate access to quality education and training, insufficient employment opportunities, especially for youth.

  • 89% of youth who have dropped out of school are working without adequate social protection. Most begin employment in low-skill, unpaid family work, moving to equally low-skill and low-paying self-employment in the informal sector as they get older.

  • Children, primarily girls between 7 and 17, work as housemaids and are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.

  • 21,266 child domestic workers were found in Phnom Penh and 3 other provinces in 2007. (source: IOM)

For more information on street children, see the Cambodian Street Children Profile (PDF), compiled by Friends-International in 2008.

Sunshine Response

Sunshine Cambodia upholds the value and dignity of a child's life. We believe they are a precious gift from God, to be nurtured and protected, not abused and exploited.

We work in partnership with Chab Dai (a coalition of 55+ Christian organisations), World Vision children's clubs, and other partners to educate and create awareness amongst all Sunshine children about the various types of abuse and the dangers of trafficking. We focus on prevention and intervention so our children can be safe and aware of their own human rights, especially the rights of a child.

We also work with Sunshine parents, specifically educating them in this area as well. Our various family programs, aimed at increasing parental capacity to earn, to save and to better care for their families, also help minimise the risk to the children.

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