Human Trafficking: Faith in Action in Cambodia

January 15, 2013

As a hotspot for human trafficking, Cambodia has received intensive media coverage and international attention as a global human rights challenge. Trafficking takes many forms but sexual exploitation of women, girls, and boys is a special focus in the region. The Cambodian government and many civil society organizations have over a decade of varied experience with programs to combat trafficking, with interventions ranging from prevention in communities, to aggressive efforts to prosecute offenders, to rehabilitation programs for victims. Organizations that draw their inspiration from religion (particularly evangelical Christianity, with many organizations from the United States) are especially active. Experience on the ground has changed approaches to trafficking, and faith engagement colors advocacy, policies, and programs. Among the knotty questions it brings to light are ferocious coordination challenges and concerns about the proper boundaries of Christian proselytizing when it is linked to international development work. Thus the Cambodian experience offers important lessons for dos and don’ts to counter trafficking work far beyond Cambodia’s borders.

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