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Cambodia Takes A Giant Step Backwards In The Fight Against Human Trafficking

Updated on April 10, 2012

Human Trafficking
The subject of Human Trafficking is a difficult one to grasp, there are simply so many grey areas. There is a fine line between prostitution and human trafficking, and in this day and age, it seems that when in doubt, we choose to use the label of "human trafficking". The thought of women being forced to sell sex against their will is something that makes anyone sick to their stomach. When you hear that this is happening in your own back yard, it makes you angry, and it should. The problem is that the term "human trafficking" is widely misused, and often confused with common prostitution.

Many people in western countries are lead to believe that Southeast Asia is riddled with human trafficking, and is the playground for pedophiles and deviants. This is greatly exaggerated to say the least, it happens, however on a much smaller scale than many people believe. Sex tourism is still a big business in Thailand, Cambodia and around Southeast Asia, however in most cases the sex trade workers are willing adults. Some people struggle to comprehend how anyone could choose to sell their body by choice, so they assume they were forced.

In October of 2009, Nick Davies of The Guardian Newspaper reported that the UK's largest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anyone into prostitution, in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers over a six-month long campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the United Kingdom. The Guardian goes on to say that their own investigation concludes that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.

The fight against human trafficking is supposed to be about protecting the basic human rights of those who are perceived to be victims. Unfortunately the result of over zealous and fear mongering politicians, media and independent agencies are often counter productive. In March of 2011, the government of Cambodia introduced a racist and discriminatory policy outlawing marriages with Cambodian women and foreign men over the age of 50.

Cambodian Marriage Law, Foreign Men Over The Age Of 50, Banned From Marrying Cambodian Women

When asked to comment on the newly introduced law, Cambodian government officials stated that “We are preventing fake marriages and human trafficking”. So in an effort to protect basic human rights, they use a tactic of racial and age discrimination. In addition to the age limit, there is also a monthly income requirement of 2500USD for foreign men under the age of 50. There is no mention of what happens in the case of a 50 year old foreigner wanting to marry a 45 year old Cambodian bride, presumably this would be illegal under Cambodian law.

If you’re a Cambodian woman, you have, effectively been denied the right to freely choose a spouse as enshrined in international human rights law. Head of the Licadho human rights group comments “This is discrimination against women because they will not be allowed to marry men who are over 50 … while Cambodian men can marry any foreign woman they choose,”

It is illogical to think that this policy will have any affect on human trafficking, those who are involved in the sex trade likely have no intention of marrying anyone. The fact that anyone supports these kind of policies is appalling! Human rights advocates that are involved in the fight against human trafficking should appose these kind of policies that take away a woman's right to choose her partner.

Read Reports In World Media
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    • profile image

      Fiacre 6 years ago

      Finally a HUB that makes sense. How crazy are those anti-trafficker "abolitionists" going to get before they become unbelievable to everyone. Take a look at my review of a new prize winning book with true stories about international trafficking.

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 6 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      Welcome to a world full of overzealous activists and sensationalism. This is a clear violation of not only your rights, but also your the rights of your Khmer girlfriend.

      The fight against human trafficking is so misguided that it often does more harm than good.

    • profile image

      annoyed 6 years ago

      i was recently engaged to a 27yo khmer girl i am 55 yo australian, one embassy gives you permission to marry and the certificate states no legal reason to stop marriage the other embassy says no you cant.what happened to age discrimination and taking each case on its merits and examine facts and contact history of the couple, i was introduced to this lady by her brother a very strict khmer man raised by a family with the same strict values. what have i done wrong what can i do i am even willing to live with her family in cambodia

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 6 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      Thank you Peter,

      I appreciate the kind words.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Thank you for this. Informatitive and sensible. Like you I was appalled when I read the new law. I wrote a hub on it too. People prefer to take a blinkered approach and not investigate as you have done. I hope you get a lot of readers. Thanks again.