The final Project I visited in Phnom Penh was Daughters of Cambodia a organization reaching out to victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia. Looking at this project and the two other sexual health related projects in Phnom Penh has made me think about writing an awareness resources for use in British school. Not sure if this would be a lesson, a part of a lesson or an assembly. Need to put some thought into it but I'm sure it would be positive for young people to gain a broader perspective.
Daughters of Cambodia looks to work with individuals who want to get out of the commercial sex industry but feel themselves trapped. The project outlines two areas of need for those wanting to get out of the industry, internal capacity (Emotional healing, self esteem and confidence) and external resources (being able to still provide food for a family for example). Using this two pronged approach Daughters of Cambodia seeks to help women (and a number of male ladyboy prostitutes) who want to leave the industry, to be able to leave by their own effort. This is seen as a more sustainable approach then making them dependant on charity hand outs.
We meet Heather from Daughters of Cambodia at their shop/cafe/spa. This premises is a key employment option for the people in the project. The shop is stocked with clothes, ornaments and jewellery made by people from the project. The cafe is staffed with women from the project who are being trained in catering and hospitatly and the spa is operated by women trained in health and beauty care by the project. It was a lovely place to have lunch (great burger!). Their are a variety of employment options, all with training, to ensure the people have future job opportunities. Michelle loved the shop and bought some pretty things.
The commercial sex industry is not a pleasant thing to be in and many of the women have suffered through some very cruel situation with the ladyboys in the project sometimes suffering worse then others due to social prejudices. Many of the victims of this industry are sold into it by their family (due to extreme poverty). In a few cases women may be ticked into being sold to a brothel by a boyfriend or close friend. Sadly a family will sometimes sell their daughter into the sex industry because she has been raped, once she has suffered that trauma she is then seen to have lost her 'value' as a potential wife and is now 'worthless'. Treatment within the brothels can be horrific. The Daughters of Cambodia website has a picture drawn by a 12 year old victim detailing some of abuse she suffered. Along with the practical training the project provides counselling and support for the victims. Helping them to recover psychologically and emotional from the abuse they have suffered.
Please visit the website to learn more about this amazing project and the good work it is doing for women and men in Cambodia desperate for a way out of the commercial sex industry.