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Lost in Cambodia

Updated on May 11, 2011
The Road Of Lost Innocence         by Somaly Mam
The Road Of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam

Human Trafficking

The Cause

You may know what human trafficking is but are you aware of the scale that this illegal trade operates at or the kind of realities that face victims of trafficking on a daily basis? It’s not pleasant to hear about and a lot of us would rather not hear it but please take 3 minutes to understand a bit more and then pass this onto someone else. Awareness is the first step to ending this horrendous crime and you will be doing your bit towards achieving this.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that at any one time there are some 2.5 million people who have been trafficked and are being forced through violence, threats and complete lack of power, to work for someone elses financial gain. The victims will be from the worlds poorest countries, many will have been looking to move location to find a job that provides a better quality of life. They have hopes and dreams like me and you – traffickers use this to their advantage, promising them a decent job, telling them exactly what they want to hear. Many will even be acquainted with the person who recruits them on behalf of the trafficker, a friend of the family, a cousin, the friendly woman who buys fruit every week from their parents market stall.


An image by Shehzad Noorani
An image by Shehzad Noorani

Beaten and Abused

They are likely to end up in a country where they don’t speak the language and know no one. If they have a passport it will be taken off them. Often they are told that they owe transportation fees, are in debt and that they must work to pay off what they owe. They will be beaten and abused. The girls who are being trafficked into brothels and massage parlors will be repeatedly raped, breaking down their sense of self, their identity and their hope. They will quickly learn that crying in front of the men who pay for their bodies leads to more violence from the pimps and that to accept their fate is the less painful option.

In the rare case an opportunity to escape presents itself, some may take it, not knowing where or to who they are going. If they are recaptured again by their owners, the punishments they receive will almost certainly stop them considering making a run for it again. The pimps tell them from the start never to trust the police, ‘the police will not help someone like you. We know people who work in the police and they will tell us what you have done and we will go back to the town we brought you from and kill your family’. Not difficult to believe when a person has already done things to you that you never imagined happening and taking into account the fact that many police systems in other countries are known for being corrupt.

  A Nick Rain image. A young Cambodian girl from a rural villiage who is at high risk of being trafficked.
A Nick Rain image. A young Cambodian girl from a rural villiage who is at high risk of being trafficked.

The victims of trafficking have no voice.

In Cambodia, both extreme poverty and a break down in society following the massacre under Pol Pot only some 30 years ago, contributes to a serious trafficking problem. Poor families will sell their own daughters for a sum that will see them through a year, not entirely sure what they are selling them into. Virgins fetch a higher price as they are believed to cure aids and to ensure a girls virginity, the girls being raped can be as young as 5 and 6.

The victims of trafficking have no voice. Those that are eventually released are that traumatised, broken and ashamed by the years of continual abuse they want to disappear and do all they can to forget. It’s a crime hidden away in places many of us will never see but it is very real and it is fast overtaking weaponry to become the 2nd most profitable illegal industry after narcotics.

Yes this is difficult to read and it’s obscene but it is very real and it should not be happening especially in the 21st century. If you are shocked by what you have read and you want to do one thing, pass this on, talk to your friends about it, you’ll be surprised by how few people are totally unaware of this crime.

You Can Help

Horrific isn't it,imagine having to sell your child/children through desperation of poverty and not knowing the outcome to your child's future.I am a very proud sister of Katy who after reading

The Road Of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam has given up a good job in London and is about to start voluntary work in Cambodia for a year.You can find out more information about this deserving cause by visiting her Blog @ katylostincambodia



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    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 years ago from london

      A extremely dark area. My prayers are with you. Offer gratitude. Asks for protection. Always ask for the Lord's will Higher blessings.

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 6 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      "Poor families will sell their own daughters for a sum that will see them through a year, not entirely sure what they are selling them into." Objective yet depressing description. Thanks for letting us know about this. As travel_man1971 said, we also have similar problems in the Philippines.

    • profile image

      Jade 8 years ago

      I will look forward to following your journey to Cambodia and good luck and keep safe Katy.

      L.O.L Jade :)

    • profile image

      Katy 8 years ago

      Hi travelman1971.

      To second my sisters note, thank you for looking at my blog. You are absolutely correct, poverty and displacement are root causes, as is demand for young womens bodies. It is a very complex issue and one that will take time to diminsh.

      I hope you will keep up to date with my journey. I will be out there from February. If you wish to follow me via facebook or Twitter

      I will send out updates there whenever I create a new post.

      Best wishes


    • wearing well profile image

      Deborah Waring 8 years ago from Lancashire U.K.

      Hi travelman1971 Thank you for taking the time to visit Katys' blog and highlighting the politics and poverty issues.Unfortunately in Cambodia many families are oblivious to the implications of the job on offer for their children and the truth about the slavery they are then subjected to!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Human trafficking is also a big problem here in the Philippines. This issue is often overshadowed by too much politicking in the government.Thanks for this hub, wearing well. P.S. I've open the blog site of your sister Katy. Poverty and displacement are the root causes of this problem that leads to prostitution.

    • profile image

      collegecareerlife 8 years ago

      Very informative. Thank you for bringing awareness to the issue of human trafficking. You have a very courageous sister and I look forward to reading her blog.