Many efforts have been focused on helping girls at risk in Cambodia. As mentioned before in our posts, two-thirds of the girls being trafficked in Cambodia are Vietnamese- a terribly high percentage. But the problem isn’t solved just be waiting for these horrifying events to occur, then trying to rescue. These problems, I believe, go back to the fact that there are really almost no child labor laws in Cambodia. One of our ten year old boys, (pictured without his name to protect his privacy) is being forced to work on a construction site for 5000 riel per day ($1.25).
This brings the family $30 per month in income. While there is desperate poverty among many famililes in places like Cambodia, there are also ways around sending young children out to work. Aid is available in various ways…. Looking at the source of this problem breaks down this way: if there were properly enforced labor laws in Cambodia, the risks of girls being trafficked and boys being forced to go to work at nine and ten years old would be considerably reduced. I was recently talking to the head of an anti-trafficking NGO in regard to this issue, and at least, she told me, there has been some negotiating with the government to encourage the enforcement of these laws.
The little boy in the picture has recently become a Christian. We Love Kids helps him to receive a meal a day. That is at least one way we can help him. He is a gracious, polite, gentle natured boy. At the work site he is verbally abused, cursed and, one of my staff told me, “spoken to as if he is a dog”. Construction sites are not places for children.
I believe that at least half the children in Cambodia must WORK to help their families. This is a horror that won’t end poverty. Putting children into school and giving them decent food, will. Within one generation. Guaranteed.