Sex TraffickingEvery year, over one million people will be trafficked globally for the purpose of sex, labor, and soldier slavery. A multi-billion dollar industry is involved in the trading of human lives for money. In the 21st Century, for slavery to exist, is a strong indictment against humanity to take action.
Sex slavery is one of the most brutal forms of human exploitation. Annually, around the world, hundreds of thousands of girls and young women will be treated like cattle, sent around the world for the purpose of servicing sex tourists, pedophiles, and perverts looking for cheap, unaccountable sexual encounters. Girls as young as five years old are trafficked into brothels, where they will be raped, tortured, and abused for the pleasure of men.
Unfortunately, the tragedy does not end here. After months or years of abuse, these girls become disposable and are released into the streets where they will continue sex work, become addicted to alcohol and drugs, suffer with sexually transmitted diseases, or commit suicide. These young women lack the ability and resources to create and secure a future.
Though this crime occurs in many countries, one of the hardest hit areas is Southeast Asia. Many countries are developing economies with fragile infrastructures and even weaker resources. Sex tourism is often the strongest aspect of tourism, resulting in a significant influx of money to countries willing to overlook the damage and long-term impact.
The hardest hit country in this area is Cambodia. Cambodia is a country settled between Thailand and Vietnam, two countries in the Greater Mekong Delta Region that have had a recent economic surge. The result has been a much greater draw for traffickers, brothel owners, pimps, and sexual deviants. Cambodia, despite its efforts at enforcement, has not deterred the sex trade from growing.
In 2005, the estimated number of girls involved in the illegal sex trade in Cambodia alone was over 40,000. In 2007, this estimated number had not significantly changed. What had changed is the tactics used by brothel owners and pedophiles to conduct business. The network has gotten more technical and suspicious of outsiders, making investigations and rescues more dangerous and time contingent.
Human rights organizations, like the International Justice Mission (IJM), Action Pour Les Enfant (APLE), LICHADO, and others have done a tremendous job in making progress with rescues, investigations, and advocacy. But there is a much greater issue at stake.
As rescues, raids, and investigations are done, these young victims need a place to recover and heal from their experiences. Many of these young girls are traumatized, stigmatized, and very vulnerable. Girls as young as six to as old as seventeen are in need of shelter, services, and assistance. There are some options available, but not enough.
Currently, there are three basic types of care programs available in Cambodia. The first is institutional care. Sometimes called long-term aftercare, this form of care has a limited effectiveness. Some girls are very young and are involved in very dangerous situations. Brothel owners and traffickers have a vested interest in having these girls returned, so there is a need for high security shelters. Yet, this is still institutional care and ultimately is unhealthy for the social and emotional growth of young women. In the short term, this can be valuable and helpful, but long-term this can have a damaging affect.
The second type of care is community based care, sometimes referred to as foster care, but can take many forms. Some organizations have even used pagodas or community leaders to facilitate this model of care. This can also be a valuable form of recovery, depending on the emotional state of the victim.
If the victim has a strong sense of fear and stigma, typical in Asian culture, this type of care can be detrimental. This is due to the weight of shame Asian cultures can place on young women that have undergone sexual abuse. Another factor to consider is that sometimes families will foster a child from outside the family, but ultimately will indenture her to a form of servitude or substandard treatment.
There are a number of organizations that have had success with foster programs that involve younger clients (infant, toddler, and pre-school age), but have yet to show success in fostering teenagers. This is really the challenge for establishing a strong foster program for victims of sexual exploitation.
Lastly, there is residential care, which is a form of care that falls into a middle category, attempting to emphasize a combination of the other two forms of care. Residential care attempts to parallel rehabilitation and reintegration into a system that most closely mimics independent adult living. This is where is where Transitions Cambodia, Inc. finds the focus of its mission. The Solution ...
This is a picture of a young girl in peril. Girls working in the brothels are given numbers and displayed to the sexual predators.