Child Issue

The Child Club was established to support children on education and empower them in target area to defend for their own rights. The children living in remote area are particularly vulnerable as many of them are not enrolled in public school and sometimes have to migrate to Vietnam with their parents. Indeed, many families from this area, which do not have any land to farm or rely on very small incomes, sometimes decide to migrate illegally to Vietnam to beg or sell lottery tickets.

CCPCR form Child Club and meet with the members of them each month to teach them about children’s rights, child abuse and illegal migration and how to report to the relevant stakeholders – village chief, police officers, commune committee for women and children, commune council.

However in 2016, CCPCR established more 11 child clubs with 220 members, and also provided them the capacity building on the prevention and protection against human trafficking, safe migration, and especially explore them to understand what is the consequences of human trafficking and child labor.

CCPCR also coordinated and supported with 6 kindergartens in the community with 250 poor children who are age from 3 years old to 5 years old. These children are prevented from the sexual exploitation and forced labor, and especially they can get the opportunity to attend the school regularly. 

And moreover, CCPCR coordinated and supported with 10 primary schools in the target communes at Svay Rieng, Koh Kong and Kampong Thom Provinces to conduct the awareness raising on the prevention of human trafficking and child exploitation and labor, and also promoting the children’s rights to 2609 students (1274 girls) in the year of 2016.

During that time CCPCR provided the school uniform and school materials to 250 poor children to make sure that all vulnerable child and children in target community are able to attend school as well. 

Cambodia is a young and growing country, over half the population is under 25 years old and 31% are under 15 year old.[1] Child mortality has decreased substantially, although currently is 24.6 per 1,000 births[2]. Access to education and health services have increased although less so for children who are living rurally.

What is Child Abuse, Exploitation, Trafficking?[3]

The CCPCR is committed to the elimination of all forms of abuse and exploitation of children. Child abuse is any act or behaviour that harms or can potentially harm a child. Child abuse can take four different forms; neglect, physical, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse, includes using language that; is inappropriate, developmentally harmful, or damage mental health.

Neglect, occurs when someone responsible deliberately fails to meet a child’s basic needs or knowingly does not provide appropriate care for a child.

Physical abuse occurs when someone purposely, injures or threatens to injure a child.

Sexual abuse includes are range of contact (e.g. intercourse, touching) and non-contact (indecent exposure, pornography) sexual act.

Abuse can occur in many situations or environments; within the family, within the community, in institutions and in the wider society. It can be perpetrated by another child, or an adult or groups/networks of adults, particularly adults who have authority over a child or manipulate the trust of a child.

A child’s vulnerability to abuse may be increased by risk factors such a child’s level of maturity, lack of understanding, mental capacity, disability or inability to protect themselves. A child may be more at risk of abuse due to issues within their family for example when caregivers lack parenting skills, lack coping skills, lack support , if the family unit breaks down or if a child lacks an appropriate support structure. A child may be reluctance of a child to disclose abuse due to feelings of shame, stigma, guilt, fear, lack of trust or loss of anonymity.

The level of abuse perpetrated against children is alarmingly high. In 2013, UNICEF conducted   cross-sectional household survey of 2,376 13- to 24-year-old females and males to estimate the prevalence of violence against children.              Qualtitative research was then carried out with 177 participants for a more indepth understanding.[4] Over half of the participants experienced some form of physical violence before the age of 18 from adult or intimate partner and around a quarter were emotionally abused. 4.4% of females and 5.6% of males aged 18 to 24 experienced some form of sexual abuse prior to age 18. More than 6% of females and 5% of males aged 13 to 17 reported at least one experience of childhood sexual abuse. 

Child exploitation is the abuse of a child where the perpetrators of abuse benefit in some manner. Child exploitation can take many forms and different levels of severity including labour exploitation, forced begging, exploitation for sexual purposes, slavery or the removal of organs.

For human trafficking in children to occur, some form of exploitation must take place and also an act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child/children. A child cannot consent to being trafficked. A means of trafficking (i.e. threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability), unlike with adults, is not necessary for a child to be considered as being trafficked.[5]

The causes of exploitation or human trafficking or complex and can occur to anyone, but factors such as poverty and various aspects of inequality related to gender, education, access to resources and infrastructure can increase a person’s vulnerability. Factors such as weak rule of law and corruption increase vulnerability and reduce the level of protection especially for marginalised groups in society.

Child sexual exploitation differs from sexual violence against children or child sexual abuse in that something is exchanged. The perpetration of child sexual exploitation, following concentrated policy and law enforcement efforts and intense awareness raising, appears to have moved from commercial establishments such as brothels to more cloaked environments via more sophisticated methods of exploitation with advancements in technology. To put it simply, visible exploitation is being replaced with invisible exploitation.

Child sexual exploitation effects all children, boys, girls or otherwise. US research[1] indicated that preferential offenders, those who act on their impulses to abuse children tend to prefer boys while, situational offenders, who don’t have a preference of children or adults, prefer girls.[2]

The International Justice Mission reported The total prevalence of minors in commercial sexual exploitation across Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville was 2.22% in 2015, down from 8.16% in 2013, and down from an estimated 15% to 30% in the 2000’s.[3] Although to report is limited as it only investigates three areas omitting area’s such as Poipet, other relevant places? and focuses only commercial sexual exploitation is does appear to show child sexual exploitation is no longer as acceptable as it one was in commercial establishments.

Cambodian men are believed to be the largest source of demand for children exploited in prostitution[4][5]; however, men from other Asian countries, the United States, Australia, and Europe travel to Cambodia to engage in child sex tourism[6]. The majority of children exploited are Cambodian although Vietnamese children are also trafficking into Cambodia. Cambodian children are trafficking both internally and across boarders for (reference??)

In 2015, Southeast Asia had the fastest growth in the world.[7] The number of tourists visiting Cambodia is increasing every year, from under 0.5 million in 2000, up to 2.5 million in 2010 to over 4.75 million in 2015.[8] The 2016 ECPAT[9] Global Report[10] describes how, more tourists, new types of tourism, business travellers, transient workers, domestic travellers have multiplied the opportunities and venues available to offenders and thus the risk to children.[11]

The report notes that advances in Internet and mobile technology have contributed heavily to the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism in the Southeast Asia region by allowing anonymity and hidden pathways for direct contact between offenders and victims.[12] Internet usage, mobile phone ownership and access to information communication technologies is increasing rapidly in Cambodia. The internet and continued advancements in technology exponentially escalates children’s exposure to abuse and potential for sexual exploitation at a time when existing forms of sexual exploitation have not been eradicated and children are being traded as commodities.

Use exploitation of street children?


While commercial establishment sexual exploitation has reduced recently from high levels in the 1990’s and 2000’s children do remain on the streets of Phnom Penh. The children are some of the most vulnerable and marginalised. Research conducted by Action Pour Les Enfants Cambodia, which focused on investigations APLE were involved in that led to arrest for child sex offences for street-based exploitation.

The time-frame of the research was from January 2003 to December 2013 and focused on 206 investigations where 495 victims were abused. Of the victims abused, which 62% were male[13], which illustrates  of the offenders, 41% were Cambodian (mixture of sexual offences and exploitation), 9% were Vietnamese (mainly exploitation) and roughly 46% were from the West (mainly sexual offences).[14]

ECPAT describe that individual boys and girls approachable in public places have been replaced with hundreds of thousands of potential victims who are just a phone call or click away. This is not entirely true completed a research study that focused on investigations APLE were involved in that led to arrest for child sex offences. The time-frame of the research was from January 2003 to December 2013 and focused on 206 investigations where 495 victims were abused, of which 62% were male.[15] Of the offenders, 41% were Cambodian (mixture of sexual offences and exploitation), 9% were Vietnamese (mainly exploitation) and roughly 46% were from the West (mainly sexual offences).[16]

Virgins and Brides

A long held belief in Cambodian culture is that when a female loses her virginity, she has lost her value. At that point, no ‘respectable’ man will marry the female anymore. There is thus enormous pressure on females to keep their virginity until getting married. Although beliefs are slowly changing, females who have been abused, exploited or raped will often not disclose this.[17]

Vietnamese women and children, many of whom are victims of debt bondage, travel to Cambodia and are subjected to sex trafficking

Authorities prosecuted six and convicted three child sex tourists, extradited one suspect to the United States, and prosecuted one and convicted five Cambodian citizens for the purchase of commercial sex acts with children.

In 2014, Southeast Asia had the fastest growth in [V\YPZT^VYSK

Research for the Global Study indicates that that the majority are ‘situational’ offenders – who may have never dreamed of sexually exploiting a child until given the opportunity to do so

Offenders often use their comparative wealth and power to exploit victims and evade justice.

Similarly, it is estimated that Cambodian nationals commit three-quarters of all cases of sexual exploitation of Cambodian children.


[1] 6 Lanning, K.V. (2010). Child molesters: A behavioral analysis (5th Ed.). Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

[2] This typology is re-enforced in


[4] ECPAT International (2012), “Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children – Cambodia”, 2nd Ed.,Bangkok: ECPAT, accessed 25 February 2015, default/files/a4a_v2_eap_cambodia.pdf


[6] The US Trafficking in Person’s report 2016 states Cambodian men form

[9] End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes


[12] Ibid

[13] APLE Cambodia (2014), “Investigating Traveling Sex Offenders: An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges in the Field of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Cambodia”, February 2014, 8-9, accessed 24 March 2016, http://

[14] Data estimated from APLE Cambodia (2014), “Investigating Traveling Sex Offenders: An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges in the Field of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Cambodia”, February 2014, 8-9, accessed 24 March 2016, http://

[15] APLE Cambodia (2014), “Investigating Traveling Sex Offenders: An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges in the Field of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Cambodia”, February 2014, 8-9, accessed 24 March 2016, http://

[16] Data estimated from APLE Cambodia (2014), “Investigating Traveling Sex Offenders: An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges in the Field of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Cambodia”, February 2014, 8-9, accessed 24 March 2016, http://

[17] 7“Investigating Traveling Sex Offenders: An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges in the Field of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Cambodia”, February 2014, 8-9, accessed 24 March 2016, http://

The reporting of abuse is low in Cambodia, particularly for groups who may be at risk from stigma, humiliation and further abuse (e.g. men reporting) Illegal status, fear of deportation/imprisonment, lack of trust in officials,

Corruption and Law Enforcement

Corruption is embedded and institutionalized within Cambodian society. Transparency International ranks Cambodia as the lowest county in South East Asia (and 3rd behind Afghanistan and North Korea in the Asia-Pacific Region) in its Corruption Perception List 2016[1]. The Government of Cambodia acknowledges the problem of corruption “(it) always considers corruption as obstacles to economic development, rule of law, democracy, social stability, as well as the main cause of poverty”.[2] The institutions that tackle corruption….

With respect to exploitation and trafficking, corruption can be linked, for example at the recruitment stage (e.g. forged documents), during transit (e.g. bribes at border crossings, during investigations e.g. dropping cases, failure to investigate, prosecution e.g. bribery to escape a prison sentence. The fact that government officials are working with human traffickers has been acknowledged.

Recently the Government has acknowledged some government officials as being complicit with traffickers. In December 2016, the Cambodian Interior Minister stated he was aware that government officials enable traffickers.[3] The US Trafficking in Person’s Report for 2016[4] notes that corruption is endemic at all levels of government in Cambodia highlighting that the Government did not investigate any government employees complicit in trafficking.

This level of corruption creates an environment where exploitation and trafficking goes unpunished and becomes low risk, suspects of exploitation can further exploit the justice system, offenders both foreign and domestic can use wealth to evade justice and those innocent or who have been falsely accused can end up in court, where they are unable to meet demands for money by court officials, and are convicted.[5]

The level of corruption involved in human trafficking in Cambodia is illustrated, as referred to the 2016 USTIP Report, with the 2013 overturning of the 2011 conviction for human trafficking offences of the former Phnom Penh, Chief of Anti-Human Trafficking Police.

UN View of Criminal Justice System

UN bodies with responsibilities for human rights (Human Rights Council) and the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW) have emphasised serious issues with Cambodia’s criminal justice system. In 2013, CEDAW noted that there is a lack of trust in the Cambodian justice system.[6]  In 2016, the Human Rights Council highlighted there is a general lack of a general lack of sensitivity of law enforcement and the judiciary leading to a culture of silence where few cases get to court.[7] Both bodies also stress how inappropriate mediation is in resolving cases of violence against women as women may be retraumatized of degraded during informal procedures or may discourage from even taking due to the negative attitudes by judicial officers and law enforcement personnel towards women victims of violence. The mediation process often results in the victims remaining/returning to an abusive environment.

Police to allegations

Despite this mediation (to protect from shame, family disownment, community shame) is the prominent means of resolving case reported to police incidents of sexual violence.  A 2015 report[8], by LICADHO, a human rights based organisation investigated 762 cases of rape or attempted rape between 2012 and 2014[9]. 537 cases involved children under 18 and of these, only 28 were boys which suggests an under reporting of male rape victims. Of the closed children cases (293/537), 116 out of the total of 293 cases ended with a satisfactory sentence, 67 ended before trial and 110ended with a trial at which there was a flawed conviction or an acquittal.

Legal protection outcomes

USTIP Report 2016[10] noted that while the government relies heavily on civil society and NGO’s to protect child victims of trafficking it failed to facilitate formal transfers of custody of child victims, leaving organizations that accepted child victims vulnerable to court action. Government officials at times returned children to high-risk environments if family members would not consent to temporary guardianship in a shelter, leaving them extremely vulnerable to re-victimization.


[5] Case studies can be found in Moral Panic in Cambodia and LICADHO

[9] LICADHO notes that there is no reliable, centralized system for recording data about reported rape cases or tracking their outcomes.

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia enshrines the International Law for the protection of children, specifically Article 31 recognises UN Human Rights declarations and Article 48 assures the protection children as per the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with particular reference to the right to life, the right to education, the right to protection from economic or sexual exploitation.

Cambodia has also signed additional the CRC Optional Protocols the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, among other international agreements.

Although the constitution acknowledges children’s rights, despite a requirement for Courts to consider the Convention when deciding legal cases, The UN noted that provisions of the Convention are rarely invoked or directly enforced by tribunals, courts and administrative authorities.[1]

Laws that protect children’s rights are encompassed general legislation such as the Criminal Code 2010.[2] But these laws are weak with respect to children do not provide for their appropriate protection. Cambodia has no legislated procedures for receiving and responding to concerns about children at risk or children in need of protection,[3] nor does not have any explicit Children’s Act or similar child specific legislation.

There is approximately one Social Worker for every 6,646 children.[4] Although this ratio has decreased substantially in recent years it is not adequate to ensure the effective and appropriate protection of children nor is it appropriate for women’s groups to protect children at commune level. Weak child protection regulation, for example of a recent proliferation of orphanages or ‘voulentourism’ creates an easy to manipulate environment which puts children at risk.[5]

Due to low public spending on social protection, NGO’s and Civil Society Organisations attempt to provide required services but this over reliance, often results in serious gaps in service provision which is most likely going to be stretched further due to lower amounts of aid and donor funding being made available.[6] [7]

Cambodia is a very young county which is still developing its’ institutions, legislation and rule of law but current structural issues, weak child protection mechanisms and poor resources ultimately result in the failure to adequately protect children from abuse and fails to address cultural acceptance and social norms that reinforce the prevalence of child abuse in Cambodian society. 

With respect to trafficking, the constitution commits to combat trafficking in persons Article 45 prohibits the exploitation of women and Article 46 prohibits trading in human being. In 2007 Cambodia ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and subsequently enacted the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in 2008. The Government is currently implementing a National Action Plan 2014-2018 to Counter Trafficking[8] which is focusing on enhancing cooperation and prevention, strengthening law and the criminal law response protecting victims, age and gender appropriately. Cambodia has also signed a number of bilateral and regional agreements to combat Human Trafficking.

With respect to child labour exploitation, Cambodia is also bound by international law that prohibits child labour and debt bondage. The minimum age for entering employment is 15 the minimum age for work that may be hazardous to health and safety is 18.


[1] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2011

[2] For example Article include and deal with Rape, Age of Consent (15), Indecent Assault, exposing genitals, not taking for minor, putting a minor to work to the detriment of their health, inciting a minor to beg, not reporting abuse of a minor

[5] For examples of how poor regulation has led to the exploitation of children see:

[7] Official Development Assistance to Cambodia from DAC Countries dropped by over 15% from 2014-2015