An Ounce of Prevention:
Eradicating Trafficking of Girls in Cambodia
Trafficking of girls
and women is one of the most serious human rights problems facing Cambodia
today. In a country where the per capita income is one of the lowest
in the world, and state support systems are negligible, unsuspecting
victims are lured with false promises of jobs then forced into sex work
or exploitative labor situations. Victims are controlled with threats,
lies, drugs, physical force and often held in slave-like conditions.
The objective of Japan Relief for Cambodia/American Assistance for Cambodia's
(JRfC/AAfC) Girls be Ambitious program is to prevent the trafficking
of Cambodian girls and women for sexual and labor exploitation through
an incentive program for girls from poverty-stricken homes to stay in
school and receive additional vocational training that will provide
employment alternatives, income generation and social and political
Among victims of
trafficking, the group who are most vulnerable are illiterate girls
who are enticed to migration and who are exploited en route and at their
destination. Our program aims to improve awareness among these women
at risk by providing them with alternatives close to home and ways to
improve their livelihoods.The Girls be Ambitious program will run off
of JRfC/AAFC's Cambodian School Project which currently manages 310
elementary and middle schools in rural villages (www.cambodiaschools.com).
The Cambodia School Project, launched in 1999 through funding from private
sectors and matching funds from the World Bank and the Asian Development
Bank, is a school-building program in rural Cambodia in cooperation
with the Cambodian Ministry of Education. The curriculum follows the
Ministry of Education program but many of our schools have added "value"
such as internet connection, computer and English-language training
and a farming program. We are currently equipped with satellite dishes
that provide internet connection to remote schools through a "Motoman
The Internet Village
Motoman system is an innovative way of providing e-mail connection to
villages where internet infrastructure does not exist. Every morning,
motorcycles equipped with a wifi modem on the back upload e-mails addressed
to schools on the route from a satellite dish installed at a hub school.
Each motorcycle travels to schools on their route, also equipped with
a wifi modem which uploads and downloads e-mails. We have successfully
implemented this system in eight villages, shortly to be increased to
15, increasing village accessibility to 80, soon 150 villages.
The school project
has been a success in terms of continual increase in student attendance
and raising the level of education. Our surveys, however, show that
attendance of girls remains low and as a result they stay illiterate.
A further study showed that the main reason girls do not attend school
is poverty and pressures upon them to help the family with work in the
field, or to take care of younger siblings and stay home while the parents
are farming in the fields . We identified and interviewed such girls
and families in five villages and found that while they said they wanted
to and promised to attend school, immediate economic pressures eventually
prevented them from doing so. The Girls be Ambitious program provides
an incentive for girls and their families to enable them to attend school
by providing financial assistance of $10 a month, $120 a year for "perfect"
attendance. Every month, the home room teacher will e-mail us an Excel
attendance sheet for each sponsored girl. Our accountant will authorize
immediate payment of $10 to the family if the girl had "perfect"
attendance. If the girl does not have perfect attendance, she will not
be paid that month and we will look into reasons why. If it is an illness,
there will be a reduction in the stipend but other absences will be
judged more severely.
At the start of
the program, we will ask the participating families to sign an agreement
to refund the money if the participant drops out within six months of
the program's launch. We may not get all the funds back but feel this
pressure will provide an incentive to fulfill the requirement of the
program. To insure the integrity of the program, we will conduct spot
checks by surveying fellow classmates and penalize teachers for any
dishonesty with a reduction of their salary.
In addition to the
regular school curriculum, participants of the Girls be Ambitious program
will be provided with training in English, computer skills, handicrafts,
agriculture and other vocational skills. Our awareness-raising program
will include staff visits to villages and meetings with families of
Girls be Ambitious participants, viewing visual aid training films,
producing comic books and e-mailing frequent newsletters and educational
materials to be posted on village bulletin boards.
We are also planning
to gather all our village computer and English teachers, already directly
assigned by us, graduates of the JRfC/AAfC-sponsored program at the
Future Light Orphanage, to workshops where they will be briefed on the
human trafficking problem in Cambodia and survey and reporting methodology.
We will invite experts in the field of human trafficking to help us
provide such training.
The program is intended
to both prevent trafficking and empower women, now experiencing low
status in their society. After one year, we will provide an in-depth
report that can serve as a model to bring 50,000 Cambodian girls into
the program as well as be replicated around the
Because most of
our rural schools will be able to access the internet and send and receive
e-mail, we are unique in being capable of succeeding in running such
Anyone wishing to
be a sponsor of a needy girl, who will attend school
for one year, can contribute $120 (14,000 yen) by check or bank
transfer and have their name and the name and photo of the sponsored
on our upcoming website: GirlsBeAmbitious.com
Checks can be issued
to *American Assistance for Cambodia* for $120. Contributions are tax
deductible. AAfC is registered as a non-profit organization in Delaware
and recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c) 3 organization for U.S. tax deductions.
For information on obtaining a tax deduction in Japan, please contact
us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. dollar checks
payable to a U.S. bank account can be mailed to:
American Assistance for Cambodia
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (150-0012) Japan
Or you may wire
the funds to the account of: American Assistance for Cambodia in the
Ridgewood Savings Bank, Queens Blvd. and 108 Street, Forest Hills, N.Y.
11375. The account number is: 648899 and the tracking number is 226071033.
Add $10 for the bank incoming wire charge. Please advise us by e-mail,
fax or mail when you have transferred funds.
In Japan the annual
cost of sponsoring a poor village girl to attend school is: 14,000 yen.
Funds can be transferred to:
Jizen Kikkin" account in the Mitsui Sumitomo Bank, Hiroo Garden
Hills Shucchojo, Futsu Yokin # 741291
Payment can also
be made by credit card (VISA, MASTERS) with a $5 additional charge,
and Paypal. For details please e-mail to: email@example.com