Child Workers at Risk of Entering Sex Industry: Report

Child domestic workers are at high risk of entering the sex industry, due to their vulnerability to sexual abuse, history of debt bondage, and separation from their families, ac­cording to a report released June 25 by the International Organi­zation for Migration.

According to the study—which surveyed 1,360 households and drew on interviews with 203 sex workers in Koh Kong and Siem Reap pro­vinces and Sihanoukville municipality—51 percent of sex workers were previously child domestic workers, and nearly a third of that group were victims of rape or attempted rape in their former employers’ households.

Child domestic workers “are [brought up] to make money for their parents from a young age …and to accept forms of abuse and exploitation,” said Eleanor Brown, head researcher for the study. “The wages are so low that a life in sex work seems attractive,” she added.

The study focused on three pro­vinces that are key trafficking transit points, Brown said, adding that the research was not statistically representative of the country, but none­the­less brought specific trends to light.

The vast majority of child domestic workers are female, and nearly a quarter are under the age of 15, the re­port said, adding that the group works an average of 13.5 hours a day.

MP Joseph, chief technical adviser on the elimination of child labor for the International Labor Organi­zation, said the domestic setting of child labor made it particularly difficult to reform or eliminate.

“The workplace…is inaccessible,” he said. “It is a private home. You can’t send inspectors in to inspect it.”

(Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda)


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