Three women arrested for forcing eight children to beg along Phnom Penh’s streets were provisionally charged on Thursday, while the youngsters involved have been sent to the care of an NGO.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor provisionally charged Mao Ouk, 48, Sam Kun, 43, and Tey Oun, 18, with inciting minors to beg, according to court spokesman Sous Vichearandy.
If convicted, the trio face up to one year in prison and fines as high as 2 million riel, or about $500.
They were arrested on Monday near an intersection in Tuol Kok district for allegedly compelling the children—each the child, niece or nephew of one of the women, ranging in age from 3 months to 10 years old—to ask for cash.
Sorn Sophal, director of the municipal social affairs department, said an NGO was taking care of the children, but declined to name the organization.
Young street beggars face “high risks of physical and emotional abuse” and have no access to proper education, health care, nutrition and sanitation, Iman Morooka, a Unicef spokeswoman, wrote in an email on Wednesday.
James Sutherland, a spokesman for Friends International, a child protection NGO, encouraged people to not give money to child beggars.
“If you do, it does not really help. In fact, it keeps them trapped in that situation, out of school and facing risks every day,” he wrote in an email on Wednesday.
Keo Thea, chief of the municipal anti-human trafficking bureau, said the women would be sent to the court today for further questioning.