THE Drama of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a form of slavery in which human beings are traded. With 10.5 million victims, it is currently the third largest source of criminal income in the world. Southeast Asia, and Cambodia in particular, are particularly affected by this scourge. There are more than 200,000 victims in Cambodia, 30% of whom are children. This slavery is estimated to bring in more than 52 billion US dollars in revenue for criminals each year in Southeast Asia.
The majority of victims are women and girls, aged between two and 20, victims of sexual abuse or considered to be in potential danger, who have been sold by their families for economic reasons and are exploited by pimps. Recruited, transported and received by force, threat or other forms of coercion, victims' participation is always involuntary, since even when consent is given, it is obtained through fraud, deception, abduction, abuse of authority or by taking advantage of a situation of vulnerability.
THE MAIN CAUSES IN CAMBODIA
Endemic violence against women
Lack of education
Trivialization of violence
the AFTERMATH of the past
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, so it is impossible to fund rehabilitation centers locally and funds must therefore be raised abroad.
In Southeast Asia, and Cambodia in particular, historical and cultural factors have provided a fertile ground for the development of slavery.
During the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge triggered an unprecedented demographic collapse by torturing, starving and murdering over 25% of the population. The regime also caused rapid de-urbanization and a forced return to an agricultural society, which totally devastated the economy. The country is still struggling to recover today, and its people live on an average of $360 per annum.
Currently, more than 50% of the population is under 25 years old and the new generation is still suffering from the traumas inflicted on their elders by the bloodthirsty dictator Pol Pot. This has resulted in a society that is still extremely misogynistic, and in which domestic violence and discrimination against women are commonplace.
The future of Cambodia is in the hands of its youth. It is essential that they understand the issues surrounding child trafficking and it is therefore our responsibility to expose this scourge by working with the population.
AFESIP, an organization created by Somaly Mam, is our local partner. AFESIP has about 30 professionals (teachers, educators, psychologists, administrative employees, investigators, "rescuers" and guards) who work to rescue as many girls as possible from their fate and welcome them to our center.
AFESIP’s team consists of Cambodians who all speak Khmer – the country's national language – as well as English in most cases. This enables us to maintain close links and to keep track in real time of the progress made by survivors, both medically and psychologically as well as at school. Our weekly contacts with AFESIP officials also enable us to assess their needs.
In addition, a member of the Solyna Foundation Board visits Cambodia at least twice a year. This is to verify the progress made in the field and follow-up on projects undertaken. The Solyna Foundation Board also regularly monitors AFESIP’s financial statements in order to check how contributions have been used. AFESIP's accounts are finally audited by KPMG annually to ensure proper use of donations.
In 2021, Somaly Mam's work was recognized and rewarded. Thanks to the generosity of the Cambodian government, the center was completely rebuilt after the Prime Minister decided to make a donation covering the entire cost of the work following his visit to the center in 2019. The old infrastructure had become more than precarious and unhealthy, so the team was delighted with this good news which has brought about a major change for our residents.