Pervasive poverty is the principal reason for the existence of child labour. Poor families who lack of capital resources, skills and education and who have limited economic opportunities are likely to send children to work. It is estimated that more than 10% of children (or 429.380 children) in the country aged between 5 and 17 work as labourers, with more than 5% engaged in hazardous labour. About half of the child labourers in Cambodia are still in school, while the other half dropped out of school or never went to school and work full time.
Terre des Hommes focuses on child labour in the agriculture sector, brick making factories and garbage dumping sites in Pursat, Svay Rieng and Mondulkiri. We strengthen the child labour monitoring committees to work more effectively, to combat child labour and rescue children from hazardous work. We provide rehabilitation services including education and vocational training. Poverty alleviation is a key strategy to address prevention of child labour in the long term.
Sexual exploitation of children in Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the hotspots of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. Sex offenders travel to Cambodia to sexually abuse children. Although sound qualitative and quantitative data is not available, it is estimated that out of all sex workers, just over 2% is below 18. A lack of education and poverty makes children vulnerable to sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. This is reinforced by cultural values that treat sexual abuse as taboo and stigmatize abused children, making them feel ashamed and guilty.
We have private detectives to track down child sex offenders and work closely together with the police to make sure these offenders are arrested. We provide a safe environment for the victims, legal aid, healthcare, trauma counseling and education. We also work on better implementation of national laws for child protection. In this programme, we particularly focus on Battambong, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Preahsihanouk provinces.
Child trafficking and unsafe migration of children in Cambodia
Cambodia borders Vietnam, Thailand and Lao PDR. Human trafficking in Cambodia is prevalent, victims are poor women, children and men. Vulnerable families try to cope with poverty through migrant labour to urban centers or across borders, exposing their children on the move, uprooting children from the protection of their communities and making both adults and children vulnerable to or at worst victim of trafficking. The disparity in trans-country and urban-rural development encourages the traffic of unsafe migration.
In Cambodia, Terre des Hommes has a comprehensive anti trafficking and safe migration programme. We work on prevention through awareness raising, we have temporary shelters for victims of trafficking where they also receive counseling, legal aid, education or vocational training, where possible they are reintegrated with their family or community. We advocate for better implementation of laws and procedures. In this programme Terre des Hommes works in Prey Veng, Siem Reap, Pursat, Svay Rieng, Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey, Poipet, Koh Kong, Battambang, Kampong Cham and Aranyaprathet.