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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                  

Kingdom of Cambodia

The garment industry currently employs more than 320,000 people and contributes more than 85% of Cambodia's exports.

The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance. More than 50% of the population is less than 21 years old. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Cambodia

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Cambodia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

SISHA (NGO, 24hr operation)
017 382 877
Country code: 855-



Good News, Bad News

Adapted from The South China Morning Post, 14 February 2008

[accessed 14 April 2011]

But, now the bad news.  The South China Morning Post had a horrific story today entitled "Endless Nightmare," which tells of child prostitution in the poverty stricken corners of Cambodia.  The story is the kind that makes you want to sell everything you have, take the money, and move there to do something about stopping the unspeakable violence against innocent children as young as four, five, and six.  Right in Phnom Penh and surrounding areas paedophiles are ravaging the bodies, minds, and spirits of these precious children.  Many of these criminals are foreigners, some are Cambodians themselves.  The article tells of four, middle aged Frenchmen scouting the area.  A local, 12 year-old tells the author that these men, "They like girls...small girls."  And he points to a mother who will rent her daughter "for the price of a hamburger."

The SCMP continues, "Today, with tourism increasing by 30 percent a year and many police, judges, and politicians taking bribes, the illegal sex trade is booming.  US charity World Vision last year said that 15 percent of the Cambodian boys they surveyed had been sexually abused before reaching their 10th birthday.  About a third of the roughly 80,000 to 100,000 prostitutes in Cambodia are children, according to Canada-based NGO Future Group."   This is evil.  And, like in Darfur, the world must take action in order to make a difference for hundreds of thousands of small children not only in Cambodia but everywhere abuse makes its dark appearance.  So, on this day of love, don't forget the women, child, and men love forgets to comfort.  And do your part to make a difference.

Suffer little Children: Legacies of War in Cambodia

David McNeill, Japan Focus, 7 March 2008

[accessed 14 April 2011]

Despite a crackdown, widespread corruption and dire poverty mean campaigners are fighting a losing battle against child prostitution

At 12, Pov knows the sexual geography of the riverfront area in Phnom Penh like the seasoned prostitute he has become. "They like girls," he said, gesturing to four middleaged Frenchmen. "Small girls." He also knows a sunblackened and tattered woman a few metres away. She will rent her daughter for the price of a hamburger.  As the sun sinks over the Mekong, Sisowath Quay in Cambodia's choking capital is a slowmoving river of human traffic. Young couples walk arm in arm, tourists gaze at one of Asia's most beautiful sunsets and children like Pov ply their trade, zeroing in on what they call rich, foreign "ladyboys", or gay men.

On Sisowath Quay, in front of the city's best restaurants, Pov and his friends eat a pizza bought by a tourist. Like many of the street children here, he is an unsettling mix of naivety and knowingness, his hand resting on my thigh as he pleads for the name of my hotel. He and his friends are desperate because he knows that most of the foreign men come for girls. When a photographer begins to take pictures, the boys drop their sales pitch, curl up like cats on the Quay wall, and smile shyly like children.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation of children [PDF]

Chloé Baury, ECPAT International, 2018

[accessed 25 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Cambodia. The overview gathers existing publicly available information on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT), online child sexual exploitation (OCSE), trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, child early and forced marriage (CEFM) and identifies gaps, research needs, and recommendations.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 25 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - Sexual intercourse with a person younger than age 15 is illegal. The government continued to raid brothels to identify and remove child sex-trafficking victims, although the majority of child sex trafficking was clandestine, occurring in beer gardens, massage parlors, beauty salons, karaoke bars, retail spaces, and noncommercial sites. Police continued to investigate cases of child sex trafficking occurring in brothels or cases where victims filed complaints directly, but police did not typically pursue more complicated cases, for example, those involving online sexual exploitation. Undercover investigation techniques were not allowed in trafficking investigations, which impeded officials’ ability to hold child sex traffickers accountable.

The country remained a destination for child sex tourism. The government used the law to prosecute both sex tourists and citizens for the sexual exploitation of children. The law provides penalties ranging from two to 20 years in prison for commercial sexual exploitation of children. The law also prohibits the production and possession of child pornography.

Local human rights organizations and local experts reported concern regarding the government’s failure to impose appropriate punishments on foreign residents and tourists who purchase or engage in sex with children. Endemic corruption at all levels of the government severely limited the ability of officials to hold child sex traffickers accountable, and the government took no action to investigate or prosecute complicit officials.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 22 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 293]

Children in Cambodia engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in forced labor in brickmaking, as well as in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. (1-3)

A worrying trend is the emergence of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) within Cambodia. (11) An NGO-funded survey indicated that, although in nascent stages, the issue of OSEC in Cambodia is increasing. (11)

Laws do not sufficiently prohibit commercial sexual exploitation of children, as the use or offering of a child for pornographic performances is not criminally prohibited.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 2 June 2000

[accessed 26 January 2011]

[63] While welcoming the enactment of special legislation to combat sexual exploitation and the adoption of a five-year Plan of Action against Sexual Exploitation of Children (2000-2004) and other related measures in this area, the Committee expresses its concern at the widespread phenomena of child prostitution and the sale and trafficking of children; the inadequate enforcement of the new legislation on these issues; and the shortage of trained people and institutions to provide rehabilitation to the victims.

Sex trend surprising

Brooke Lewis, Phnom Penh Post,  October 5, 2010

[accessed 15 April 2011]

The vast majority of former child sex workers surveyed on behalf of a local NGO said their main clients were Cambodian men.

A report detailing the findings of the study states that paedophiles “tend to be Cambodians, rather than foreigners, contrary to the usually held assumption that paedophilia is a Western problem and that Cambodians are not engaged in such activities”.

“Cambodian men prefer beautiful, fair-skinned and younger-looking sex workers – basically minors,” he said, and added that they were often willing to pay a premium for virgins.   “Especially the powerful, the rich people, spend thousands of dollars to have sex with children,” he said.

Human Trafficking On the Rise in Cambodia

Voice of America ®, Pnom Phen, 23 March 2009

[accessed 19 July 2013]

TRAFFICKING VICTIMS ARE ENSLAVED, TORTURED - Trafficking victims in Cambodia typically endure years of torture and abuse.   Vann Sina was lured from her village with an invitation to a Christmas party when she was just 13 years old.  When she arrived in Phnom Penh she was locked in an underground cellar.   She says she was beaten a lot and had to serve many clients.  She says that if she refused she was tortured with electric shocks or forced to eat hot chilies. She says that if she did not receive 15 or more clients every day she was starved and beaten. - htcp

Cambodian Girls Driven to Prostitution

Original reporting by Seang Sophon for Radio Free Asia RFA’s Khmer service. Service director: Sos Kem. Translated by Sothea Thai. Written in English for the Web by Joshua Lipes, Phnom Penh, 2009-01-27

[accessed 15 April 2011]

The girl from Prey Veng province has worked as a prostitute in the Cambodian capital for five months. Hard times, she said, have brought her here to earn money for her widowed mother and three younger siblings.   “I am unhappy with myself, but I pity my mother. No girl wants to do this horrible work,” the 15-year-old, who asked not to be named, said in an interview as she looked for business near the Suriya Supermarket.   “Sometimes, I get only one client in two or three days.

Rising living costs are forcing more Cambodian girls under 18 into prostitution in urban areas such as Phnom Penh to support their families in the countryside.   The girls, spotted easily from around 8 p.m. as they scout urban streets and parks for customers, say they lack the education to find other work.

A dangerous trade - Several Cambodian girls who agreed to be interviewed said they engage in sex work despite its dangers because they cannot afford to quit.   “Clients take me to guesthouses. I get U.S. $10 per night. They gang-rape me and beat me,” another girl, 17, from Svay Rieng province, said.

Increasing poverty - Lim Mony, program manager for women’s issues at the nonprofit group ADHOC, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, said the number of girls and women involved in sex work is increasing because of higher living costs and the lure of modern luxuries.   “Voluntary sex work by girls on the streets is difficult to define. Many of these girls first were lured and tricked into being sex workers by traffickers. Then, because of that, they began voluntarily selling their bodies. Other women have been voluntarily engaged in prostitution from the start,” she said.

If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is?

Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, January 3, 2009

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Pross was 13 and hadn’t even had her first period when a young woman kidnapped her and sold her to a brothel in Phnom Penh. The brothel owner, a woman as is typical, beat Pross and tortured her with electric current until finally the girl acquiesced.   She was kept locked deep inside the brothel, her hands tied behind her back at all times except when with customers.   Brothel owners can charge large sums for sex with a virgin, and like many girls, Pross was painfully stitched up so she could be resold as a virgin. In all, the brothel owner sold her virginity four times.   Pross paid savagely each time she let a potential customer slip away after looking her over.   “I was beaten every day, sometimes two or three times a day,” she said, adding that she was sometimes also subjected to electric shocks twice in the same day. - htcp

Cambodia launches tourism documents to combat human trafficking

Xinhua News Agency, August 28, 2007

[accessed 15 April 2011]

The strategies require owners of hotels, guesthouses, and other establishments to inform tourism police or relevant officials of any suspicious activities, he said.  The plan to promote policies on child-safe tourism was designed with technical and financial support from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Undercover in SE Asia's brothels

Thembi Mutch, BBC News, 27 July 2007

[accessed 15 April 2011]

Reporter Thembi Mutch spent seven weeks in Thailand and Cambodia, finding out what life is like for children trafficked into the region's thriving sex industry.

TALES OF TRAFFICKING - As for the trafficked children, their stories defy words.  A 15-year-old girl in Cambodia said her parents had sold her to a man for her virginity. The man had drugged and raped her whilst she was unconscious.  After a week in the hotel room with this man, she was sold onto a brothel. There, she was gang-raped by 10 men posing as clients.  She escaped, by hiding in a rubbish bin, but was then tricked into prostitution again, staying for three years. Eventually she escaped, and knocked on the door of some strangers, who cared for her.

NGOs Work To Eradicate Human Trafficking, Help Victims

U.S. State Department Press Release, Washington DC, 2007

[accessed 15 April 2011]

U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations around the world are working to prevent human trafficking, provide resources to victims and arrest and prosecute child-sex offenders. From Africa to Europe to Asia, initiatives are raising worldwide awareness of the illegal practice of human trafficking.

PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING - In Cambodia, the ChildSafe network, created and managed by the NGO Friends International, helps crack down on child-sex tourism by training drivers of moto-taxis to identify and report suspicious behavior by tourists who may intend to exploit children.  The ChildSafe project has trained 36 moto-taxi drivers and employees of 25 guesthouses to identify and protect children who are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in Sihanoukville, a beach resort town.

Saving Cambodia--one child at a time

Mayumi Saito, Staff Writer, Asahi Japan News, 04/14/2007

[accessed 15 April 2011]

In April 2003, Sayaka Murata, then a college junior, met two sisters, ages 6 and 12, at a child prostitution shelter in Phnom Penh. She assumed they were the children of members of the staff. She was wrong.  "I was shocked to learn the ages of the residents of the shelter," she recalls. "The youngest girl was 5. They all worked at brothels."

A year later, she went back to the same shelter only to find the sisters gone. They had been forced back into a brothel to pay off their parents' debts. The tragic news reaffirmed Murata's commitment to help abused girls in Cambodia.

Anderson Cooper Tackles Child Prostitution, Elephants, and Giant Squids

Suki Falconberg, The American Chronicle, April 15, 2011

[accessed 12 Aug  2013]

CNN journalist Anderson Cooper and his news crew recently spent a week in Cambodia and Bangkok reporting on the trafficking in humans and animals. One extremely good aspect that came out of all this was the profiling of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution as a child and who escaped and now rescues other girls, many just five or six years old, and most of them, sadly enough, already infected with AIDS.

Cambodia taxi drivers fight abuse

Guy De Launey, BBC News, Sihanoukville, 22 October 2006

[accessed 15 April 2011]

The Cambodian seaside town of Sihanoukville has adopted a new strategy to deter sex tourists.  Motorbike taxi drivers have been enlisted as the first line of defence for the town's children.

A Message to George Clooney: When ‘Peacekeeping’ Equals Rape

Suki Falconberg, The American Chronicle, November 13, 2006

[accessed 12 Aug  2013]

Their report on Cambodia is especially disturbing. A UN Peacekeeping force of 100,000 invaded Cambodia in the early 1990’s, causing the sex trade to skyrocket. Brothels, massage parlours, the sale of girls from rural areas into these torture ‘palaces of pleasure,’ a massive increase in child prostitution, and AIDS.


Child Exploitation

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

Cambodia's 55,000 prostitutes are children under the age of 16. The oldest girls in the sex industry today are teenagers, says Sao Chhoeurth, who works with AFESIP, a French NGO that rescues and rehabilitates child prostitute.

Cambodian activist who rescues sex slaves is honored in U.S.

The Associated Press AP, New York, October 30, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

Some of the girls Mam's group rescues die of AIDS or are sold back into prostitution by their families, but others leave the sex trade for good.

Cambodia gets tough on child sex trade

Adam Piore, Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor, Phnom Penh, September 27, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

Cambodian police this year have arrested at least 12 foreigners on charges of sexually abusing children - more than twice the amount snagged all of last year.  In addition to three Americans, they've caught four Germans, an elderly Swiss man, a Belgium national, and at least three Vietnamese nationals who helped the foreigners procure children.

Former Child Prostitute Finds New Hope - The Life of a 13-Year-Old in Cambodia

ABC News - Good Morning America, April 11, 2006

[accessed 16 April 2011]

Deep in the Cambodian countryside hundreds of miles from the city and years behind the modern world the life of a 13-year-old girl seems simple. But for Sophon (not her real name) life wasn't always so sweet. Her country, Cambodia, has the distinction of being Asia's sex trafficking capital. Like many young girls, Sophon was sold into prostitution by her own, desperately poor family when she was just six years old.

Trapping Cambodia's sex tourists

Andrew Harding, BBC News, Phnom Penh, 11 June 2005

[accessed 16 April 2011]

After a long, tense wait, a grinning teenaged boy opens the door and pushes in two young girls.  One says she is seven years old. The other is nine.

Rebuilding Cambodia: one woman at a time

Karoline Kemp, theTravelrag, September 6, 2005

[accessed 28 August 2012]

Thyda looks like any other young girl – only she’s lived through trauma most of us could never imagine. At the age of 12 she was told that she needed to make money in order to buy medicine for her sick grandfather. Because she was considered to be very beautiful, her mother sold her to a friend for $300. This woman then sold her to a high-ranking Cambodian official for $800. She stayed with him for three hours on that first night. Thyda was moved all over the country, being resold over and over again.

The Protection Project - Cambodia [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Trafficking victims usually come from poor, rural areas, such as Battambang, Cham, Kandal, Kompomg, Prey Veng, Svey Rieng, and Takeo, or from urban slums. The cities where women and children are most commonly sexually exploited are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, and the developing border areas of Banteay Meanchey and Battambang. Poipet, located on the border with Thailand, is a trafficking hub. There, brothels and bars cater to Cambodian and Thai men.  As many as one-third of women working in the commercial sex industry in Cambodia are under Trafficking victims usually come from poor, rural areas, such as Battambang, Cham, Kandal, Kompomg, Prey Veng, Svey Rieng, and Takeo, or from urban slums. The cities where women and children are most commonly sexually exploited are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, and the developing border areas of Banteay Meanchey and Battambang. Poipet, located on the border with Thailand, is a trafficking hub. There, brothels and bars cater to Cambodian and Thai men.  As many as one-third of women working in the commercial sex industry in Cambodia are underage.age.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – CAMBODIA – The Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC) created a Sub-Committee on Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in December 2000 to promote and coordinate the implementation of the Five Year Plan of Action Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children. It is chaired by the Ministry of the Interior and comprises 14 members. However, the implementation of the plan has reportedly been limited and NGOs have expressed disappointment that the government has not committed financial resources for activities in the Plan.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

U.N. Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Fifty ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 16 April 2011]

[32] NGOs reported particular problems, including bribery and corruption in the legal system, lack of understanding of the law, court delays, lack of police cooperation, insufficient budget for investigation of cases in the provinces, and limited resources.  An absence of laws prohibiting child prostitution and unclear laws concerning trafficking means that there is no special protection for the increasing number of child victims of prostitution.

[34] It is reported that some of the brothels where children work are frequented by government officials, and until this is addressed, genuine progress to tackle commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children will not be made.

Khmer girls' trafficking ordeal

Kylie Morris, BBC News, Thai-Cambodian border, 2 June, 2005

[accessed 26 January 2011]

"At first I refused to have sex with men. Then I was beaten so badly I had to hide my face for a month, until it healed. Then I was told again I would have to sleep with the customers. I knew if I refused I would be beaten again. I had no choice but to agree."

Cambodia - Child Prostitution

Peter Lloyd, Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC Foreign Correspondent, 18/09/2002

[accessed 16 April 2011]

Cambodia’s sex trade is often portrayed as a service for foreign pedophiles – rich westerners who head for poverty-stricken Asia to indulge desires that would see them in prison here.  But the reality is that this is an industry serving mostly Cambodian men.

Hitting Slavery Where It Hurts

Quentin Hardy, Forbes, 01.12.04

[accessed 18 January 2016]

"Nothing compares to the deadness in the eyes of a kid in a brothel," Haugen, 40, says. "In Rwanda, the dead were already gone. In the brothels of Cambodia, they are the living dead."

They mapped a systematic, and highly profitable, trade in innocents. Kids from remote rural areas are promised work or treats in distant cities by slave dealers, who sell them to brothels for up to $1,000. Sex with these kids costs $30 compared with $5 for an adult prostitute in Cambodia.  "Our investigators came into Svay Pak, and within ten minutes pimps came up saying 'Do you want small-small? I can get small-small,'" says Sharon Cohn, the head of IJM's antitrafficking unit. "It was unbelievable--kids as young as 5."

Children for Sale

NBC News, 1/9/2005

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Dateline goes undercover with a human rights group to expose sex trafficking in Cambodia. Children, some as young as 5 years old, are being sold as slaves for sex.  - htcp

The Modern Scourge of Sex Slavery

Dr. Martin Brass, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, Hong Kong, 2004,13190,SOF_0904_Slavery1,00.html

[accessed 26 January 2011]

[photo caption] Cambodian policeman escorts 11-year-old Vietnamese girl from brothel in Toul Kork red-light district of Phnom Penh: Six girls from 11-13 years of age were rescued from brothel that offered only young children. Trafficked from Vietnam, children were rescued during sting operation involving Cambodian Interpol and local police, led by End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT)

Facts about child prostitution in Cambodia

Child Rights Cambodia Child Sex Abuse Protection Charity

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

  • In Cambodia, a third of those in prostitution are children under 18 years of age
  • UN ESCAP research confirms that "the commercial sexual exploitation of children is a thriving business in Cambodia."
  • Young girls are forced or volunteer to sell their virginity for a high price and then continue to work as prostitutes.
  • Boys, who live on the street in urban centres, have also been sexually exploited by paedophiles in recent years;

Cambodia Witnesses Rise In Child Prostitution

Bureau Report, September 14, 2000

[accessed 16 April 2011]

Cambodia is enjoying its longest period of peace and stability in 30 years following the surrender of the last of insurgent Khmer Rouge Forces in late 1998. As a result, its tourism industry is booming.  But among the 400,000 tourists expected to arrive in Cambodia in 2000, nearly twice the previous year, are what child protection workers say an increasing number of foreign child sex predators. At risk are girls as young as 10 years old brought in from the Cambodian countryside or smuggled across the Vietnamese border to service a seemingly insatiable child sex industry centered in Phnom Penh.

EU Concerned about Child Prostitution in Cambodia

EUbusiness, UK, 13 January 2005

[accessed 16 April 2011]

In a non-binding resolution European lawmakers underlined their "preoccupation with child prostitution in Cambodia and with the trafficking in human beings both to and from Cambodia, with the objective of using them for forced labor, prostitution and begging and in illegal adoptions."

Fact Sheet: Commercial Sexual Exploitation [PDF]

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, 22 July 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 14 June 2011]

FACTS AND FIGURES - An estimated 2 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex industry. In Cambodia, a third of those in prostitution are children under 18 years of age.

Violation of Children’s and Women’s Rights: The Case of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation [PDF]

Ms. Mehr Khan, UNICEF Regional Director, East Asia and Pacific Region, 12/6/2003 -- Paper Presentation

[accessed 16 April 2011]

[page 40] THE SCOPE AND NATURE OF THE PROBLEM IN THE EAP REGION - As with trafficking, it is difficult to estimate the number of children and women being exploited in the commercial sex industry. The highest concentration of child sex workers is believed to be in the Greater Mekong sub-region, which consists of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and the Yunnan and Guangxi provinces of China. In some of these countries, children are reported to account for around one-third of all sex workers. A survey in Cambodia found that 30 – 35 per cent of sex workers were between 12-17 years of age.v Yet the problem also exists beyond the sub-region. In Indonesia, 60 per cent of registered prostitutes were found to be between the ages of 15 to 20 years of age. These figures are mere indications of the extent of the problem in the region.

“Welcome to the Rape Camp” - Sexual Exploitation and the Internet in Cambodia [PDF]

Prof. Donna M. Hughes, University of Rhode Island, Journal of Sexual Aggression, Vol 6, Winter 2000

[accessed 16 April 2011]

[page 5] Child prostitution is common in Cambodia. Approximately one third of all women or girls in prostitution in Cambodia are under age 17. One study counted 2,291 underage girls in prostitution, some younger than 12 years of age (Business News Review--Cambodia, 12 July 1999). Another report claims that there are 16,000 girls in prostitution who are under age 18 (Cochane, 10 November 1999). Throughout the decade of the 1990s in Cambodia, the age of girls in prostitution steadily declined. In 1992 the youngest known girls in prostitution were 18, but one year later, in 1993, 15 year olds were found in prostitution (Cambodian Women’s Development Association, 1992 and 1993). The next year, in 1994, a survey found that 35 percent of women and girls in prostitution were under the age of 18 and some were as young as 12 years of age (Cambodian Women’s Development Association, February 1994). By 1995, another survey found that approximately 31 percent were under age 17 (Kang and Phally, 1995:3).

Aris Story

[access information unavailable]

By day the young girls watch television soap operas, giggle and pore over the pages of fashion magazines. But as dusk descends on Cambodias brothels, the young girls begin to touch up their make-up and adjust their stylish blouses and short skirts. They are preparing to entertain men, both local and foreign, who pay for an hour or a night of sex with them.

While research on child sex workers in only beginning in Cambodia, experts and international organisations agree on one thing: the problem is growing rapidly.  More than one-third of all sex workers in Cambodia are estimated to be children, mostly girls aged 12 to 17, or nearly 20,000 children. The demand for younger girls, especially virgins, is accelerating in response to growing customer demand for AIDS-free sex, coupled with the illusion that younger girls are unlikely to be HIV-positive.



ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - CAMBODIA [PDF]

ECPAT 2006

[accessed 15 April 2011]

Social inequality, poor access to land, limited resources for families to meet the needs of their children, low-quality education, deficient social services and weakened institutions - problems exacerbated by 20 years of war – have contributed to the high vulnerability of Cambodian children to commercial sexual exploitation, which has become a means of survival for some children and their families.

Although the Draft Education Law states that nine years’ basic education in public schools is provided free of charge, primary level schooling is still not compulsory; and though the enrolment rate for primary education has increased in recent years, drop-out and repetitive rates are still high. This is due to several factors, including indirect costs of education, limited financial resources of families to support their children’s education, and poor quality of education. Low levels of education have made children more vulnerable to child labour and commercial sexual exploitation as they are often expected to contribute to the family income.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Sexual intercourse with a person under age 15 is illegal; however, child prostitution and trafficking in children occurred. In 2000 the government adopted a five‑year plan against child sexual exploitation that emphasized prevention through information dissemination and protection by law enforcement. A local NGO reported having investigated 29 cases of child sexual exploitation, which resulted in the arrest of 5 foreign pedophiles. Three perpetrators were charged and awaiting trial. Two pedophiles were sentenced to 15 and 10 years' imprisonment, respectively. Child rape remained a serious issue; a local NGO reported 65 cases of rape involving children below 10 years of age during the year; the youngest victim was 4 years old.

The illegal purchase and sale of children for prostitution was a problem. During the year raids on brothels rescued underage girls who were trafficked for prostitution.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] The constitution prohibits forced or bonded child labor; however, forced child labor was a serious problem in the commercial sex industry. Law enforcement agencies failed to combat child prostitution in a sustained, consistent manner. Widespread corruption, lack of transparency, inadequate resources, and staffing shortages remained the most challenging obstacles.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Cambodia is reported to be a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficking in children for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and various forms of work, including forced labor and begging.  Cambodian children are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or bonded labor. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a serious problem in Cambodia. Children are also used in pornography.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Child Prostitution - Cambodia",, [accessed <date>]