Kunthy in her home, six weeks after being rescued from a forced marriage in China
Special Report: Trafficking in Cambodia
The trafficking of women and girls remains a huge challenges across South East Asia.
Hagar has been working on the ground in Cambodia since 1994 to rescue, provide recovery and psychosocial support for victims of trafficking.
I was sitting on the floor in a sparse one-room hut on the edge of Siem Reap in Cambodia. The young woman sitting next to me had just been rescued from a forced marriage in China. She had been missing for five years, trapped in a violent relationship in a country she never planned to visit, then jailed when she tried to escape.
Kunthy had just arrived home to her family, who until three weeks earlier, believed she was dead.
Kunthy’s family live on $2 a day. Poverty, lack of awareness and the cultural expectation to give back to one’s family, leaves many young women vulnerable.
Kunthy is a brave survivor of trafficking – of an industry estimated to be worth up to $150 billion annually.
Kunthy is now being supported by Hagar to learn new skills as a beautician. Although her confidence is very low, she is starting to believe she’s valuable and can contribute to the well-being of her family.
Across South-East Asia, while sexual slavery remains a significant issue, labour trafficking has arisen as a major challenge for anti-trafficking NGOs. This crime is complex as it generally involves cross-border criminal groups, who work together to facilitate the movement of people.
By supporting organisations like Hagar, you are helping fund an NGO in Cambodia that’s run by Cambodians, who have deep expertise in the issues and are committed to helping survivors start their lives again.
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Story & photography: Jeremy Meltzer