Horrorifying Sex Trade in Cambodia

I spent much of December 2007 and January 2008 in Cambodia. While I didn’t touch too much upon the disturbingly prevalent sex trade present there, this report from Change.org (below) does… as does the linked ABC report. It leaves one wondering, ‘What can be done?’ Makes my stomach churn…

Warning: The the videos and commentary in this post are graphic and disturbing, even for a human trafficking blog.

Despite increased international pressure and national efforts to end child sex tourism in Cambodia, it remains a top destination for pedophiles looking to have sex with children. The child sex tourism industry in Cambodia is also notoriously young, including children who are five, six, and seven years old as well as pre-teens and young teens. ABC Nightline conducted a raid on a suspected American pedophile, and what they found was disturbing.

The story of Harvey Johnson — the man who is the subject of the Nightline sting — is not unique. It’s the story of a retired man who moves to Cambodia and sets up a gig as a volunteer English teacher, giving him access to hundreds of children. Some of the thousands of the sex tourists who travel to Cambodia each year use simialr guises to have access to children, and some just shop for them on the streets. Case in point: while the ABC film crew were researching the ease of buying kids for sex in Cambodia, the cops showed up. At first the reporters were worried, but it turns out the cops just wanted a chance to sell the kids that they had procured, and they started loading girls into the back of the reporters’ van. With some police conducting sting operations and others selling children to tourists, it’s hard to know who to trust in Cambodia.

It is disturbingly easy to have sex with a very, very young child as a Western tourist in Cambodia. They are being sold by brothel owners, slave brokers, and even their own mothers. The desperation of so many families is so great, that sex with children in Cambodia has become a full commodity, a resource for a family who otherwise would have no resources. And most disturbingly of all, there seems to be no shortage of buyers in this marketplace, no lack of American and European men who want to buy the youngest child possible. If Harvey Johnson is found guilty, there will be a long line of men waiting to rent his house and take his place as a teacher/abuser.

Johnson’s case is still pending, but the police and reporters found his apartment to be filled with an disturbing and incriminating assortment of items that would lead most people to believe he was making is own child pornography and abusing the young girls who he taught. You can watch the videos of Nightline’s sting operation here: Part1, Part 2, and Part 3 (ABC won’t allow them to be embedded for proprietary reasons).

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