“The effort to end slavery and combating human trafficking in Asia: Youth engagement in society through education and economic development- the Caritas Cambodia experiences”

1-    Introduction

The paper is to highlight on the experiences of being a youth leader to on combating human trafficking in Cambodia and effort to end slavery through engaging youth to society by obtain them informal education such as skill training, awareness raising and economic empowerment. This paper is undertaken of the real experiences of working with youth from different background in Cambodia. It also exists of some best practice from secondary document and research paper published in the website too. Moreover, the in each content mostly related to human trafficking topic that align with the themes of the symposium.

1.1-        About Cambodia

Cambodia officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina. The country faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues, including widespread poverty, pervasive corruption, and lack of political freedoms, low human development, and a high rate of hunger.

Since recovering from decades of turmoil, genocide, and civil war, Cambodia now faces new challenges. Despite its recent economic growth in the past few years, it still remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. For the poor, education, vocational training and employment opportunities are insufficient to provide enough income to meet minimum needs. This makes rural-to-urban and cross-border migration by vulnerable families and individuals common, as they move in search of economic opportunities to survive. In the process, many become victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, begging, or forced marriage. (Ref: Cambodia Profile, Wikipedia)

1.2-        Cause of trafficking

The main causes of human trafficking in Southeast Asia are universal factors such as poverty and globalization. According to Betz, poverty isn't the root of human trafficking and that there are other factors such as the desire to have access to upward mobility and knowledge on the wealth that can be gained from working in urban cities, that ultimately attracts impoverished individuals to human traffickers. Betz claims the industrialization of the region in the mid 20th century led to a clear division between growing economies and stagnant ones. This industrialization of booming economies, like that of Thailand and Singapore created a draw for poor migrants seeking upward mobility and individuals wanting to leave war torn countries. These migrants were an untapped resource in growing economies that had already exhausted the cheap labor from within its borders. A high supply of migrant workers seeking employment and high demand from an economy seeking cheap labor creates a perfect combination for human traffickers to thrive. Still in the new millennium the market for forced labor is profitable; class-divisions and the economies' need for unskilled labor keep traffickers in the market.

The sex industry emerged in Southeast Asia in the mid 20th century as a way for women to generate more income for struggling migrants and locals trying to support families or themselves. Nicola Piper claims the industry's growth throughout the region can be attributed to growing tourism and military bases that dotted the region during times of major wars. Sex industries first catered to military personnel on leave from bases but as military installations began to recede the industry turned its attention to growing tourism. With little intervention from governments due to potential harm to the tourism market, the sex industry's growth was uninhibited. Even as the industry is looked down upon today there is still a large underground market that is demanding from traffickers.(Ref: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

1.3-        Who is being trafficked in Cambodia?

The officially repatriated cases, almost all victims repatriated from Thailand and Vietnam were children identified as being trafficked into begging or street selling and were from localized areas in key border provinces of Cambodia. The Cambodians repatriated from Malaysia and the Vietnamese repatriated from Cambodia were all women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. While men are only newly acknowledged as victims of trafficking in Thailand with the passing of the new Thai human trafficking law, counter-trafficking NGOs report receiving increasing numbers of complaints from Cambodian men trafficked to Thailand to work in the fishing industry over the last few years. Within Cambodia, trafficking is predominantly women for commercial sexual exploitation and children and women for domestic work. (Ref: http://www.no-trafficking.org /cambodia_who.html)

1.4-        Cross Border Trafficking out of Cambodia

·      Trafficking to Thailand of men women, children and for labour exploitation (especially begging and fishing), sexual exploitation, and domestic work.

·      Trafficking to Vietnam of children for begging.

·      Trafficking to Malaysia of men, women and children for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation (especially factory work and construction work) and domestic work.

·      Trafficking further abroad to countries as far away as Saudi Arabia for domestic work, Taiwan and Korea for marriage, United States for adoption and Somalia for labour exploitation in the fishing industry etc.

·      Vietnamese and Chinese are also trafficked through Cambodia to locations further abroad

1.5-        Internal Trafficking Into and Within Cambodia

·      Trafficking from Vietnam of children and women for commercial sexual exploitation. Vietnamese communities living within Cambodia are also particularly vulnerable to internal trafficking.

·      Trafficking from further abroad (from countries such as China and Eastern Europe) for commercial sexual exploitation.

·      Trafficking within Cambodia, largely from rural to urban areas of children and women for commercial sexual exploitation.

2-    Caritas Cambodia

Caritas Cambodia is an official social development arm of the Catholic Church in Cambodia, has been built on the values of Love, Concern, Peace, Unity, Sharing and Brotherhood. Caritas Cambodia established in 1990s to assists the poor, disadvantages and displaced people of Cambodia. Caritas works in solidarity with all people of good will and similar vision to promote human dignity alleviate human suffering; promote the development of people, foster charity, justice, and peace in the country and of the world. Caritas assists the poor solely on the basic need, not creed, race or nationality and maintains strict standard of efficiency and accountability. Caritas Cambodia currently operates its facility in 11 provinces and cities all over Cambodia and technical and financial support to over 300 Village Development Association in Cambodia.

2.1. Caritas Cambodia Vision and mission

Caritas Cambodia has a clear mandated to follow the mission as the following:


Realization of a just society, where rights of people are respected, integral development of people is promoted.  Renewed and Empowered communities are built.


Build a sharing and caring community in solidarity and partnership for the well being and to restore human dignity of the poor through an empowerment process.

2.2- Caritas Cambodia target province

Presently Caritas Cambodia has been working in 11 provinces:

1-    Kandal

2-    Siem Reap

3-    Battambang

4-    Kampong Cham

5-    Kampong Thom

6-    PreahVihear

7-    Takeo

8-    Mondulkiri

9-    Katie

10- Rattanakiri

11- Phnom Penh

2.3- Caritas Cambodia program operation

Caritas Cambodia now working on the main activities such as:

1. Community Integrated Development Program

2. Community Health Program

3. HIV/AIDS Program

4. Prison Health Program

5. Center for child and Adolescent Mental Health –CCAMH

6. Preventive Eye Care

7. Emergency Response Preparedness and Rehabilitation

8. Right Based Approach and Advocacy-RBA

9. Gender and Anti-Human trafficking Program

10. Vocational Skill Development      

(Ref: Caritas Cambodia Annual Report)

3-    Youth engagement in society through education and economic development

3.1. Vocational Skill Development

The unskilled youth create market for the brokers and employment agency and migration, with poor who are grossly exploited, creating an intractable supply of poor young people. To reduce such demand, traffickers should be dealt with as criminals, whilst the survivors should be treated as persons with rights to be respected and protected, not as illegal migrants or criminals. Personal and economic empowerment are key factors in both resettlement and prevention strategies. Returnees, young people at risk need support to empower themselves so that they gain increased control over their lives. This requires personal empowerment of young people themselves, as well as creating a supportive environment in the family and community so that it is able to accept, not condemn and discriminate against these persons. Skill training is the most powerful weapon to sharpen the future of unskilled youth in order to prevent them from migration and exploitation.

In between, Caritas Cambodia acknowledges that the lack of education and inadequate of specific skill expose the poor young people to the risk of trafficking due to their lack of economic empowerment and participation in decision-making within the family and community and also fall in the trap of brokers. As a result, young people may be trafficked by their own family, neighbors, “friends”, middle man and unscrupulous agents. Caritas Cambodia has 3 vocational training centers, 1- Youth Development Program (YDP), 2- Friendly Vocational Skill Development for Women and Young Mother with Children, 3- Drop in Centre (DIC) are being provided various trades to survivors, unskilled youth, young mother with children, PLHA, vulnerable and poor youth to combat and prevent human trafficking within Asia region.

3.2. Economic Development

Economic empowerment/development is equally essential as a preventative strategy of the program in order to reduce the attraction of trafficking. This is particularly difficult in poor countries like Cambodia, with poor communities, and requires more than the conventional vocational training projects that is called economic development. The vocational training will be able to contribute to economic development and reducing poverty.  As the fact, Caritas being create job placement after skill development, the client after successfully graduated they are able to find employment, run own business and improve living standard. Additionally, they can support to themselves, family and sibling on the purposes of basic needs, education, health treatment...etc.

Through this result, the survivors and clients are not force themselves on the reason of poverty and become the victim in all images of human trafficking. 

3.3. Youth Engagement in Society

It’s not really easy to break out the silent and draw the attention of the survivor to be in the public. Its must be the effort and lots of courage to them to engagement in society. But if they can do their voices will become louder than other because the only them feel the pain and experiences those hell.

As a consequence of these, Caritas Cambodia has a program of youth engagement in Society through conduct mobile role play, campaign, provide awareness raising to local community and counseling to survivors. We came together to find solutions to prevent the exploitation and trafficking of all children and youth at our respective target area. They shared their stories and made recommendations on how the country could prevent the trafficking and exploitation of young people and children. The youth emphasized the role of social media and community networks to raise awareness about the issue, including the establishment and strengthening of community-based surveillance networks.

4-    Conclusion and Recommendation

In conclusion, the effort to end slavery and combating human trafficking in Asia: Youth engagement in society through education and economic development through Caritas experience is the highlight that we wish to share to friends from different countries the way we are contribute to end the modern slavery in our country level as well as Asia region. We do believe that our contribution that was included youth and survivors themselves will make a louder voices to prevent and protection the people. So, through learning and reflection within our routine task, we can say some recommendation to prevent the youth from human trafficking that:

1-    We need youth help to raise awareness, drive the social action and inspire change. We believed that together, we can end it.

2-    Youth’s voice and strong functioning network in all regions: In order to have a strong voice, the youth should be build a functioning network to fight against trafficking in all regions. The voice should sound in ONE and develop strong action toward the youth group, the obligation toward themselves and various youth group to which they belong can have a significant change especially the voice will be heard. All above, the linkage of youth from every social background can be bring the common sense and make the issue become scorching, so that there will be able to draw attention to all public.

3-    Properly implement the law, i.e. to end the treatment of trafficked victims as criminals.

4-    Establish an effective training program to the young leader for the enforcement in order to properly the exercise the existing legislation. The training should be referring to the global action plan on Anti-human trafficking.


1-Caritas Cambodia Annual Report 2013, Caritas website: www. caritascambodia.org

2-Completion report of youth development program 2013

3- Source: from Cambodia over view: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/cambodia/overview

4- UN-V Youth situation: http://www.un.org.kh/unv/cambodia_youth

5- UNIAP homepage http://www.no-trafficking.org/

6-The Cambodia Remains on US ‘Watch List’ for Human Trafficking



1-    YDP: Youth Development Program

2-    NGOs: None Government Organization

3-    FVSD: Friendly Vocational Skill Development for Women and Young Mother with Children

4-    DIC:  Drop In Centre

5-    PLHA: People Living with HIV/AIDs

6-    UN-V: United Nation Volunteer

7-    CCAMH : Center for child and Adolescent Mental Health

8-    RBA: Right based Approach 


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