Aside from its wonderful culture and magnificent Khmer ruins, Cambodia has become notorious for a much darker attraction. The country is a source, destination, and transit point for modern day slaves: men, women, and children sold into the sex trade.
According to the Not for Sale Campaign, one million children every day are forced to sell their bodies in the global sex industry. Sex tourism is a thriving industry in Cambodia, with male tourists paying high premiums for sex with children. NGOs like UNICEF and Save the Children estimate that 50,000 to 100,000 women and children are at risk. These young victims are often legally defenseless—or worse. In May 2007, a raid on a Cambodian brothel found 17 sex slaves “imported” from Vietnam. None of the pimps were arrested. Instead, the girls—11 of them under 18 years old—were ruled “illegal immigrants,” and sent to prison. Attitudes and laws in Cambodia must change in order to protect the victims and punish the sex slaveholders.
According to a report released in June 2007 by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons: “While the Cambodian Government [has taken] nascent steps to address trafficking-related corruption, the government must expand these efforts to prosecute and convict officials who profit from or are involved in trafficking. The government also failed to pass a much-needed comprehensive anti-trafficking law that has been in the drafting process for the past seven years.”
The specter of sex tourism is causing grief to thousands of people, and casting a pall over the legitimate tourism industry in this venerable Buddhist nation. Join us in telling the government of Cambodia that we are aware of this reprehensible situation. Please modify (if you wish), sign, and send us a copy of the attached campaign letter. We will mail these to the appropriate authorities, letting them know how we feel about a shameful practice that reflects poorly on all travelers.
Ethical Traveler’s campaign against child sex trafficking in Cambodia is being waged in association with Global Exchange, Not For Sale Campaign, and ECPATóCambodia. Please visit their links below for more information.
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