Over 260,000 people are living in modern day slavery in Cambodia

That equals more than TWELVE sold-out Madison Square Garden arenas filled with exploited individuals.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is defined by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center as “a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his or her will.

What types of trafficking exists?

Trafficking exists around the world. At AIM, we have rescued individuals from child sex trafficking, organ trafficking, baby trafficking, international bride trafficking, labor trafficking, domestic slavery, and more.

What is sex trafficking?

The majority of the survivors that AIM rescues were trafficked and sold for sex. Sex trafficking is when adults and children engage in commercial sex acts against their will as a result of violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion at the hands of sex traffickers. Victims can be stolen or kidnapped, sold by parents or other family members, or even trafficked by someone close to them.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, “Traditionally, traffickers have subjected women and girls to sex trafficking in brothels, bars, and massage parlors; however, in an attempt to better conceal their crimes, some traffickers have changed tactics and now exploit victims in hotel rooms and private apartments, making them harder for law enforcement to detect.” Sex trafficking exists throughout the world and is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking Statistics

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are over 40 million people living in modern day slavery. In 2016, 4.8 million were estimated to be victims of forced sexual exploitation. Total profits from sex trafficking worldwide were estimated at $99 billion, with the Asia-Pacific Region being the most active area in the world for this horrible practice.

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Bee 2010 ©

In Cambodia, on a daily basis, we witness firsthand that sex trafficking of adults and children is prolific – sometimes in very obvious and visible ways, but more often as part of a dark, underground economy. Learn more about sex trafficking in Cambodia where AIM’s programs are located.

1 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2016, found at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf.
2 International Labour Organization, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, 2014, found at http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—declaration/documents/publication/wcms_243391.pdf.

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Human Trafficking in Cambodia

A 2018 report from the Global Slavery Index estimates that 261,000 people in Cambodia live in conditions of modern slavery. That is over TWELVE sold-out Madison Square Garden arenas filled with exploited individuals.

There are an estimated 15,000 – 20,000 prostitutes in Phnom Penh alone – where many of AIM’s programs are located – and more than 15% of those are estimated to be children under the age of 15.1 At AIM, roughly 40% of survivors we rescue from sex trafficking are minors.

Impoverished families struggling to provide for other children may often sell their daughters’ virginity, which in many cases will earn them up to 20 times an average weekly wage. UNICEF reports, “In Cambodia, virgins are sold for up to $800. This represents three times the country’s annual GDP per capita rate.”2

At AIM, roughly 40% of survivors we rescue from sex trafficking are minors.

“Cambodia continues to make progress combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children through prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of victims and the arrest and prosecution of offenders.

This has been reflected in Cambodia’s improved ranking of tier 2 from the tier 2 watch list in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons yearly report since 2015 until now.

This progress would not have been possible without the cooperation of local and international partner organizations, in particular AIM SWAT whose partnership with the Department of the Anti-Human Trafficking

and Juvenile Protection Police has been instrumental in our success.

Presently, there continue to be offenses of child sex trafficking and cross border human trafficking in Cambodia. The partnership of AIM SWAT with the Cambodian Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police is indispensable and critical in our fight against not only child sex trafficking, but all forms of human trafficking in order for us to continue our good progress in protecting the rights of women and children in particular.”

General Pol Phie They
Director of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department of the Cambodian National Police
October 2018

1 UNICEF, Children on the Edge, 2000, found at http://www.unicef.org/vietnam/childse.pdf.
2 UNICEF, Children on the Edge, 2000, found at http://www.unicef.org/vietnam/childse.pdf.

Why Does Trafficking Exist in Cambodia?

Cambodia’s unique economic challenges, history, and geographic location make it a hub for human trafficking and child sex trafficking.

The country provides a large population source for new victims, is a transit point along many organized human trafficking routes, and has become a destination for traffickers and sex customers alike.

Svay Pak, where many of our programs are located was once known as the child sex trafficking capital of the world. Many of our programs occupy buildings that were formerly brothels for minors. Now they are empowering and restoring survivors of trafficking.


In the 1970’s, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime killed over 2.5 million people, starting with intellectuals and community leaders. They forced children to be soldiers which escalated the genocide and destroyed family structures, cultural institutions, and the entire fabric of society. This left the people of Cambodia with a demoralized view of human worth, which was almost necessary for survival at that time.

After the Khmer Rouge genocide ended, children became a commodity.

How Sex Trafficking Happens in Cambodia

There are many other entry points into this dark industry. According to UNICEF, “Thousands of children and women are lured, sold and kidnapped into the sex industry each year. They are often betrayed by their neighbors, friends, relatives, guardians and even boyfriends or parents, and they are tricked with false promises of a better life or well-paid work. They are then forced to pay off ‘debts’ for transportation, health and living expenses, subdued with rape, violence and torture and sold from brothel to brothel.”1 Many reports show that Cambodian men make up the bulk of demand for exploited children, but men from from other Asian countries, the United States, Australia, European nations, and South Africa also travel to Cambodia to engage in child sex tourism.

Governmental intervention is absolutely necessary to begin solving this massive injustice. In 2007, the U.S Department of State placed Cambodia on their Tier 2 Watch List for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and for having a “very significant or significantly increasing” number of victims of severe human trafficking. However, in 2016, Cambodia had made more efforts to comply with TVPA and was upgraded to Tier 2. Cambodia is making progress in the areas of victim protection, prevention, and prosecution of traffickers, but one of the largest unaddressed issues is corruption. According to the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, “Endemic corruption at all levels of the government severely limited the ability of individual officials to make progress in holding traffickers accountable. However, the government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any government employees complicit in trafficking…”

AIM’s Wholistic Strategy

Through building relationships, contributing to economic and social stability, and sharing the love of Christ, AIM is working daily to overcome these deep societal wounds and bring about true healing and a redeemed view of the value of each individual. This slow and steady work is bringing about great change in the lives of the Cambodians we serve and creating hope for future generations in the country.

AIM’s programs in Cambodia are designed to fight sex trafficking through a holistic approach. We work to prevent it through programs aimed at at-risk children, youth and families as well as reaching out and educating local men on the issue; we rescue victims by working with local authorities and employing our own investigative SWAT Team; we restore survivors and help them with reintegration into society by providing education, better employment options, and so much more.

1UNICEF, Children on the Edge, 2000, found at http://www.unicef.org/vietnam/childse.pdf.

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