This new government pledged (in 1994) that education would received 15% of the nation's budget, but McNamara asserts that at least up to a few years ago, only 8% of the budget is targeted for education in Cambodia. That is clearly not enough, and while educational resources are scarce, the sex and child labor industry flourishes.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor report, "Incidence and Nature of Child Labor," published August 23, 2006, 44.8% of Cambodian children ages 5 to 14 years old were working in 2001 (notwithstanding the labor law sets the minimum age for employment at 15). The jobs held by children included agriculture (the "majority" of children work in the fields), "hazardous conditions on commercial rubber plantations, in salt production," in the fishing industry and in garbage collection. Not only are Cambodian children put into slavery for sexual services, the Labor report asserts that Cambodian children "are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia" for sexual commercial exploitation or "bonded labor."
Meanwhile, the Asia Foundation (with funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development), published a "Review of a Decade of Research on Trafficking in Persons, Cambodia." In the report's Summary, the authors (Derks, et al., 2006) point out that figures on trafficking vary wildly, depending on the source; for example, one estimate in the late 1990s puts the number of trafficked women at 80,000 to 100,000 and the number of trafficked girls at 5,000 to 15,000.
The report, called "Survey on street-based Child Sexual Exploitation in Cambodia: Overview of 7 Provinces," notes that it is difficult to pin down specific numbers of trafficked children because "many studies group children together with some adults, namely women..." The report also concludes that there are no "specific studies on the involvement of criminal networks" trafficking in children; but in fact the numerous studies used in this report suggest that "family members, husbands, parents, neighbors or friends" - in greater numbers than organized networks of criminals - are more likely to be responsible for enslaving children in the sex industry.
As for the children of Vietnamese families living in the slums of Phnom Penh, another report, called "Chab Dai Phnom Penh" published a survey in May, 2006 (Reimer, 2006), which reports that "...nearly half of the families do sell a girl-child for sex." Interestingly, the research indicates that more families would sell a child "...as a one-off event for her virginity, than would sell a child into longer-term prostitution." Also, the report asserts that "about 25% of families have a female member currently working as a prostitute" (about half of those females are under 18), and roughly 60% of those girls "...were thought to have entered against their will."
METHOD: The test of this paper's hypothesis was through scholarly research in available literature. RESEARCH DESIGN and ANALYSIS: The research conducted for this paper was based on a search for information (through database scholarly articles) to answer fundamental questions regarding the hypothesis. RESULTS, DISCUSSION, IMPLICATIONS: I expected to find good information on the poor state of education during and following the Khmer Rouge era, but I did not expect to learn that children are sexually abused and even enslaved in the great numbers as they are today in Cambodia. It is clear today that Cambodia will not likely return anytime soon to the vitality and interest in education that was the main social theme after the fall of the French colonial structure and prior to Pot Pol's power grab. But before a high quality education program can be launched for children, the government of Cambodia must take strong measures to clean up the child labor and child sex trade industry. Continuing corruption allows the horrifying human rights abuses to children, and it should be stopped.
Ayers, David M. (1999). The Khmer rouge and education: beyond the discourse of Destruction. History of Education, 28(2), 205-218.
Ayers, David M. (2000). Tradition, Modernity, and the Development of Education in Cambodia. Comparative Education Review, 44(4), 440-463.
Derks, Annuska; Henke, Roger; & Vanna, Ly. (2006). Review of a Decade of Research on Trafficking in Persons, Cambodia. The Asia Foundation / Center for Advanced Study / U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID).
McNamara, Vincent. (2001). Education and the Politics of Language: Hegemony and Pragmatism in…