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Providing Ren with Legal Support

October 1st, 2021

Being at risk of danger both relates to a person’s vulnerabilities and those that would exploit it. For many children living in poor households, danger is a reality.

Take Ren, a boy living in a slum area in Siem Reap, Cambodia. His wooden home is small and his neighbourhood is cramped with many other families. He said, “I decided to stay in the street because it is more comfortable for me than my house”. 

Ren’s parents had been struggling before and even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. His father is a community assistant chief for wedding ceremony events and his mother is a scrap collector. These struggles lead to Ren supporting his mother collecting garbage and being in the streets. He was exposed to individuals around his age that encouraged him to do drugs. To support his living and his parents, he was also enticed by these individuals to beg to foreigners in the streets. 

This vulnerability as a child living in the street was exploited. Ren faces danger without realising it. He met a foreigner at the park and brought him and his two other friends to his home. The foreigner took this opportunity to sexually abuse them in exchange for $5. This man did this to him two more times.

When Terre des Hommes Netherlands learned about Ren’s situation, a social worker was sent to him for counselling and to assess the support that he needed.

Ren was provided with legal support, along with education materials such as books to improve his reading and informed about the dangers of begging for money in the streets. He also received a bicycle so that he can travel to school and to study with his siblings. “I have made a lot of progress.  I am more mature, I am really  happy to get​ psychological support and now I feel very good”, Ren added. He is now 18-years-old and working with his brother to deliver plastics materials to shops. 

Many children like Ren who live in areas where exploitation and abuse is almost a norm such as domestic abuse and sexual grooming of perpetrators. However, these communities are still resilient as their day-to-day life is a struggle for survival. Oftentimes, information and awareness is all they need where children and youth are empowered. TDHNL works on this by collaborating with law enforcement and local organisations to spread information about sexual exploitation and how to stop it, 

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