During a signing ceremony Monday for a project designed to prevent trafficking of women and children, Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged that he could not do anything to stop government officials from going to brothels.
“I control them only eight hours a day,” he said. “After that, they take care of themselves and their families. What we can do is appeal to them to limit themselves within the framework of the happiness of the family.”
Hun Sen presided over a ceremony in which Finland pledged more than $1 million for a three-year program aimed at preventing trafficking. The ceremony was held in conjunction with International Women’s Day, which is today.
The program, to be administered by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the International Organization for Migration, focuses on training about 2,000 government authorities in legal and socio-economic issues related to trafficking and migration.
As part of the program, women and children in 900 villages already have received information on trafficking through workshops, and a media campaign.
About 60 percent of the more than 14,000 commercial sex workers in Cambodia entered the profession by force, according to the International Organization on Migration. An estimated 30,000 Cambodian women have been trafficked to neighboring countries for forced labor.
Cambodia has a law against trafficking that includes a maximum 15-year prison sentence, and a maximum 20-year sentence if the victims are minors under 15 years old.
The first trial on cross-border trafficking was held in September, in which Seng Savoeun was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trafficking three children to work in Thailand as beggars. Since then, there have been no major trafficking prosecutions.