Trafficking in Cambodia: The Statistics

We found this article from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women about trafficking in Cambodia. Much of the information is at least 10 years old, but it’s a starting point for understanding what trafficking looks like in Cambodia. For the full story, go here:


Prostituted girls, most of them aged 15 to18 years of age, are found in the Svay Pak red-light district of Cambodia. Many girls are much younger. Most of them are smuggled in from Vietnam and all are bound by contracts, which last from six months to over a year. Svay Pak has the largest number of prostituted Vietnamese girls. (“The Street of Little Flowers,” rewritten from ‘Children of the Dust,’ by MIKEL FLAMM and NGO KIM CUC, Bangkok Post, 23 February 1997)Many of the prostituted women and children in Cambodia are from Vietnam. (Chris Seper, “Police Sweeps Help Clean Up Child Prostitution,” Christian Science Monitor, 8 January 1998)

Vietnamese girls are commonly brought to Phnom Penh, where they are concentrated in a strip 15 km north of the city in an area known as Svay Pak. (Laura Bobak, “For Sale: The Innocence of Cambodia,” Ottawa Sun, 24 October 1996)Policy and Law

Under newly passed legislation by the Macao Legislative Assembly, homicide, abduction, smuggling of people, forcing others into prostitution, aiding illegal immigration, illegally trading, and the manufacture, use, possession, and smuggling of arms are considered organized crime activities, and are punishable of 5-12 years in prison. (“Macao sets up new law to stop organized crime,” Xinhua, 5 August 1997)

Methods and Techniques of TraffickersUnofficial estimates say that there are as many as 15,000 prostituted persons in Phnom Penh, and that up to 35% of them have been smuggled into Cambodia from China or Vietman, mostly from the southwestern provinces of Vietnam (Long An, An Giang, Song Be, Kien Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City). Brothel owners pay traffickers from US$350 to $450 (8,750 to 11,250 baht) for each attractive Vietnamese virgin 16 years or younger. Non-virgins and those considered less beautiful are sold from $150 to $170 each (3,750 to 4,250 baht). (“Children of the dust,” rewritten from ‘Children of the Dust,’ by MIKEL FLAMM and NGO KIM CUC, Bangkok Post, 23 February 1997)

Girls bound by contacts to a brother owner have their debt to the brothel owner subtracted from the number of customers serviced. It may take from six months to a year or more to work off this debt. The fees that have been paid to their families, trafficking agents, and border guards compound the total debt. Once all debts are paid off, the prostituted person makes from $2 to $3 [50 to 75 baht] per customer, this is after the brother owner has taken their own cut. (“The Street of Little Flowers,” rewritten from ‘Children of the Dust,’ by MIKEL FLAMM and NGO KIM CUC, Bangkok Post, 23 February 1997)

Virgins, who have been sold to brothels by trafficking agents, are confined to the brothel or a hotel room until the first client comes. Due to the belief that sex with a virgin has rejuvenating properties, her first client is charged an expensive amount. Advertised as “special commodities,” virgins are also attractive in that they are less likely to have AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. The customer pays from $300 to $400 (7,500 to 10,000 baht) to have sex with her for one week in a local hotel chosen by the brothel owner. (“Children of the dust,” rewritten from ‘Children of the Dust,’ by MIKEL FLAMM and NGO KIM CUC, Bangkok Post, 23 February 1997)

When recruited by brokers in a village, the girls’ families are told they will be employed and be able to send money home. After the girls are purchased, usually for about $150, they are brought to a hotel room or safe house where they are kept until they can be sold to their first buyer for $300 to $400 for a week. But after this, the girl is considered “used goods” and her value drops dramatically to as little as $2 per sexual transaction. (Laura Bobak, “For Sale: The Innocence of Cambodia,” Ottawa Sun, 24 October 1996)

The enslaved girls must stay until their debt to their purchasers is paid off, or face beatings. This is difficult, if not impossible, since the owners consider the girls indebted to to them for their constantly mounting expenses for food, clothing, medical costs and abortions. As a result, a brothel owner will hold a girl prisoner until she becomes too old or too ill to attract customers. (Laura Bobak, “For Sale: The Innocence of Cambodia,” Ottawa Sun, 24 October 1996)

A trafficking network, operating under protection from local authorities, was discovered by human rights workers in Cambodia. For at least two years in Koh Kong province the network trafficked hundreds of children a month into Trat province, Thailand. The children are sold for $70 each. Some children were drugged and forced into prostitution. Other children who were sent to work on fishing boats were often arbitrarily tossed overboard to drown. (“Child slavery ring uncovered in Cambodia,” Associated Foreign Press, 19 December 1997)


A trafficker was arrested and confessed to having abducted 1,800 women from Beijing. Because of opposition from the villagers and from local officials, police were only able to rescue six women out of 1,800. (Stephanie Ho, “Trafficking of Women in China,” Voice of America, 27 September 1997)

A 12-year-old girl from the Zheijang region was sold for US$40,000 to a trafficker. She was taken to Bangkok, Thailand for “instruction” in prostitution. Authorities found the girl in Italy. Her destination was the sex industry in Miami, Florida, USA. (“Pedophilia ring uncovered in Italy,” USA Today, Nov 1997)

A Vietnamese woman, one of seven, was trafficked under false pretenses to China. She escaped from the brothel, and returned to Vietnam, where she was locked in a hut and threatened by a local Public Security Bureau official. She eventually fled to Hong Kong in July 1991, and filed for refugee status, which was denied in 1993. In February 1998, she was still appealing the decision. (“Viet women Œdeceived into life as Œsex slaves¹,” South China Morning Post, 21 January 1998)

One thought on “Trafficking in Cambodia: The Statistics

  1. What is being done to stop this trafficking now?? How can I be involved?
    The information about the problem is full enough…..but, what is the solution?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s