AFESIP Cambodia 

Acting for Women in Distressing Situations 

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The role of education in fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation cannot be understated. Education is a vital component in combatting the poverty and lack of opportunities that lead to the vulnerable and desperate state of many trafficking victims. Further, education fosters long term sustainable development for Cambodia—it allows future generations to protect their families and communities from becoming victims and falling into precarious means of income. Education opens women and girls in Cambodia to other livelihoods beyond sex work, thus AFESIP makes education a priority and key investment for our beneficiaries. Somaly House offers English and Khmer classes and library services to both its residents and to children from the nearby community.

                Village children attend English class                                Parents register their children for English Class

The day began not like any other at the Somaly House center. The children woke up earlier than usual—some dashed to the bathrooms to wash up, leaving the older children to sweep the yard while staff busied themselves decorating and setting up, preparing to receive students and teachers from the nearby schools. The grounds were abuzz in anticipation of the day’s events.

To welcome the guests, dancers from the Somaly House center perform a “Wishing Dance.”

19 year-old Ling Ya, resident of AFESIP’s Somaly House center in Kampong Cham and Grade 12 student, was recently selected as one of two activists to represent Cambodia at the first “UNiTE Global Youth Forum” in Thailand from 21 to 25 May, 2012. UNiTE is the United Nations Secretary-General's Campaign to End Violence Against Women, and the Global Youth Forum brought together young activists aged between 18 and 30 from all over the world to build partnerships and strengthen the movement of young people working to end persistent gender inequality and violence against women and girls. They were invited to exchange relevant knowledge and experience and share the successes and challenges in their work.

Here, Ling Ya shares with us what she learned from this great experience, how she intends to implement this in her own community in Cambodia, and what she thinks is key to ending all violence against women and girls. We couldn’t be more proud of her!

In the past, photographers and other members of the media have unknowingly violated the right of AFESIP’s residents (many who are victims of human trafficking for sex slavery) to identity and protection, by photographing their faces and not concealing their identities. Similarly, visitors using smart phones, personal cameras, and social media too often run the risk of revealing the identity of victims without their knowledge or consent.

Somaly with mother and newborn

Somaly with mother and newborn

In June, Somaly Mam and her staff paid a visit to an entertainment worker in Phnom Penh who had recently given birth to a baby girl. The new mother, along with the other twenty or so women that joined her are well acquainted with Somaly and AFESIP’s social workers. The social workers with AFESIP’s outreach teamregularly visit this particular group of entertainment workers to distribute condoms and other hygiene and sanitary items, as well as raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, STDs, drug abuse, personal hygiene, human rights and self protection.

 The new mother had a particularly harrowing tale. Just two days following her delivery, she left the maternity ward alone. She explained that her husband, a known drunkard who squandered his garbage collecting salary on alcohol, was nowhere to be found for the birth of his daughter. As a result, the woman plans to return to her clients in order to provide for her children. Somaly felt compelled to assist the new mother with a personal donation and after chatting with the women, distributed dozens of boxes of food. Somaly’s gesture did not go unappreciated—the immense gratitude of the women was evident with their expressions of thanks and warm, smiling faces.

 

 

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