Last month, I had the privilege to travel to Cambodia to connect with a number of great ministries doing wonderful work in trying to prevent children from being trafficked.
Every continent in the world today experiences the horrific crime of human trafficking, but in various forms.
In South-East Asia, poverty is a push factor, for families, villages and parents to seek a way out of their situation by selling their children,or themselves. Poverty is also used as a pull factor – the promise of money, and being able to provide for your family and even community is what the parents, the girls, and the villagers are told.
This, of course, is a lie.
The victims of trafficking and the sex industry often see a fraction of their earnings.
Those trapped, particularly in sexual servitude do not have enough for themselves, let alone for their families and communities, often due to debt bondage.
The traffickers or pimps often take large sums of money off the sex slaves for their up-keep, for medical costs, for daily living expenses and so forth. This leaves little left for the sex slaves themselves.
With the obligation to send money home – if they can manage it – this leaves the slave in a financially vulnerable situation, which the traffickers use to their advantage.
For me, what was most striking in Cambodia, was that these individuals, these parents, these communities cannot see the long term advantages of educating a child – the benefits in investing into a child’s future through education or career support, rather than the quick -fix money solution that has the potential to turn into debt bondage.
This reality that exists in a number of developing nations was highlighted to me once again in Cambodia, where preventative outreach programs, such as that run by Mission Cambodia and XP Missions have to pay parents $1 per day to convince the parents to allow their children to get a basic education.
These children are often forced onto the streets to beg and to make $5 per day, any way they can, in order to contribute to the family cost of living.
There is a problematic ideology at play here – the lack of value, worth, dignity and respect extended to children, who are seen as a financial burden, if not working, and alternatively, as an economic commodity, with the potential to ear the family money.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares in Article 26 declares that everyone has the right to education, which should be provided free of charge, at the fundamental stages.
United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in t’s 2011 Report stated that: A quality education throughout life is the birthright of every woman, man and child. In turn, education, particularly that of girls and women, aids progress across all development goals.
Since the adoption of the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals in 2000,
remarkable progress has been made in education worldwide, and much of it in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Millions more children are in school, making the move from primary to secondary education, and gender disparities in primary and secondary school enrolments are narrowing.
Preventative projects that seek to educate these children, investing into their futures long term, by giving them not only an education, but a stable, supportive environment, clean water to drink, nutritious meals, and a great start in life have the challenge of trying to convince the parents of these children that their child is worth it.
Prevention of child trafficking through education and community outreach is necessary to protect those susceptible to human trafficking. Preventative projects such as those run by Mission Cambodia and XP Missions target root issues of human trafficking, such as poverty, lack of value for life, break down of the family, and lack of education, with a hope to stop trafficking before it begins.
XP Missions sees protecting vulnerable slum and street dwelling communities as key.
Nations such as Cambodia are at-risk for trafficking because of trauma, poverty, and inadequate structures (social, economic, and governmental). Corruption is a large part of this reality.
Working with at-risk communities and transforming individuals can lead to the prevention of human trafficking to protect and empower women, children, families, and ultimately communities.
Mission Cambodia take their care one step further, in providing: homes newly built, distributing rice, providing medical clinics, and providing housing and support for young people wanting to study at University in the Capital.
Mission Cambodia has developed an Education Support Program for some of the most disadvantaged people in Cambodia. Currently, the mission is paying for 10 girls’ University tuition, housing and food in Hannah’s House in Phnom Penh. A similar program for boys called “Gideon’s House” has also been established.
Please support these organizations by donating your time, finances or professional support to them, if you can.