Cambodia sex trade, Cambodian Children

Number of Cambodian Children in Sex Trade Drops

Less vulnerable...

Less vulnerable…

PHNOM PENH  – The number of minors being sold in Cambodia’s once notorious sex industry has fallen by 73 percent over the past three years, a new study claims.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) study found that the prevalence of minors in the commercial sex trade in the three largest commercial sex markets in the country—Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville—has dropped to 2.2 percent

I am sceptical anytime someone tells me something has changed as dramatically as this, especially something as entrenched as the Cambodian sex market.

I’m not alone.

On Wednesday, the Phnom Penh Post quoted Agape International Missions chief executive Donald Brewster as saying he didn’t think “the numbers are accurate.”

“Our experience would say that they’re off,” he added.

It is his belief, he told the Post, that such brothels and operations have been driven further underground—something IJM said in an accompanying information sheet is not exactly likely.

it makes be distrust IJM, at least a little; they do work in the field so their study is trumpeting, at least partially, their own success.  And success means more funding.

But, I am told they do great work.

So perhaps, I am being churlish. Any sort of decrease in Child-sex crime is to be celebrated.

Though doesn’t this  dramatic drop diminish the current scope of the problem?

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5 thoughts on “Number of Cambodian Children in Sex Trade Drops

  1. philipcoggan says:

    I’d be more inclined to distrust Agape, and for exactly the reason you mention – their income depends on exaggerating the number of children involved in the sex trade. Dan Brewster’s career depends on large numbers of child sex victims.

    • Well, that suggests you trust a study that shows a 73% decrease in the number of minors sold for sex. An unbelievable decrease in such a short space of time to my mind.

      And like IJM, I understand Agape has also done some great work; both organisations worked together on Svay Park, for example. I’ve no doubt though that many of Cambodia’s problems are exaggerated to ensure funding.

  2. philipcoggan says:

    I think the large percentage decrease is quite believable, given the tiny actual numbers – only 38 persons under 18 in commercial sex establishments in the three major cities.

    Those are the numbers from the 2012 survey, and the methodology seems quite robust. (See https://www.ijm.org/sites/default/files/download/cambodia/Results-Summary.pdf) Very similar numbers came from the 2008 UNIAP study, which is still the best set of figures available, though outdated. UNIAP covered the entire country, and concluded that there were 28,000 commercial sex workers in the kingdom including 127 children (eleven under 15 and six under 13).

    So, a problem which is socially and individually horrific, but in actual numbers quite small, so that percentages shift dramatically with relatively small changes in numbers.

  3. Thanks, I understand the % shift on small numbers, Philip.
    I doubt demand has dropped though and therefore some of the trade has surely gone further underground and the CSE’s haven’t been found.

    There is no doubt the number of children exploited has dropped though. But this is ‘magic bullet’ stuff and they don’t exist.

    I can’t bring myself to look at the UN figures- anything to do with that filthy organisation makes by blood boil. But do you seriously believe that there were only 127 child sex-workers in Cambodia, in 2008? I’ll leave it there.

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