Phnom Penh, 30 July 2014 – The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) is deeply concerned over the increasing number of reports of women trafficked abroad under the pretext of marriage, and the human rights abuses they suffer as a result. In the first six months of 2014 ADHOC received a total of 108 cases, with 295victims. In at least 26 of these cases the destination was China, with 29 victims affected.

ADHOC has launched an intervention to relevant Cambodian authorities, namely: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the Ministry of the Interior and Cambodian Consulates and Embassies in the destination countries of trafficked Cambodian women. China has been the particular focus due to the high number of women reported trafficked there.

Victims are misled by brokers into marriage to foreign nationals with promises of better living and working conditions abroad. However, once trafficked the victims face sexual, physical and emotional abuse by their new ‘husbands’ and ‘in-laws’. Victims are forced to work hard and receive only limited food.

According to ADHOC’s research, Cambodian girls and women are vulnerable to being trafficked due to a general lack of job opportunities in Cambodia, a lack of land ownership and the indebtedness of the girls and/or their families.

What further aggravates an already troubling situation are the stories of the lack of assistance currently provided by the Cambodian Consulates and Embassies abroad.

ADHOC has received reports of victims trafficked to China fleeing their families and living in the forest feeding on bamboo shootsin order to avoid arrest by the police.Without access to food and lacking money, these victims are often very scared of being taken back to the families which abused them, who in many cases have already taken their identity documents, leaving them vulnerable to arrest by the police and unable to escape.

ADHOC strongly condemns the brokers who traffic the victims, their foreign clients who abuse the victims and the Cambodian Consulates and Embassies abroad for not taking action to protect Cambodian nationals in urgent need of assistance.

ADHOC is particularly concerned over six developments that threat vulnerable girls and women:

1)      The brokers​​​​​​ who select the Cambodian girls and women for trafficking have started to create extensive and powerful international networks, making it harder to track and assist victims

2)      ‘Husbands’ take away the victims’ passports, jewelry and money once a marriage certificate is signed. This deprives the victims of their freedom and makes them more dependent on their new ‘husbands’ and ‘in-laws’;

3)      Many of the victims are in poor health due to their harsh living and working conditions. They report not receiving enough food in relation to the labor they are expected to perform;

4)      Some victims have been trafficked from one family to another. Others have been sold to brothels and forced into prostitution;

5)      Victims are raped by their‘husbands’ and in some cases by the husband’s family, resulting in the gang-rape of victims;

6)      Victims are not offered sufficient protection or assistance by the Cambodian Consulates or Embassies abroad.

In response, ADHOC calls on the relevant institutions to take responsibility. Urgent and concrete action is needed to improve the dire situation these victims are in. ADHOC thus calls for the following actions:

1)      To arrest and prosecute the human traffickers, both the brokers and their extended trafficking networks, including involved government officials who escape punishment due to Cambodia’s culture of impunity;

2)      To sensitize vulnerable, at risk women on the dangers of migration;

3)      To improve job opportunities for at-risk Cambodian women;

4)      To consult with NGOs on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Cambodia and China on preventing the exploitative trade in Cambodian women to China and to ensure that a comprehensive and well-thought MOU is signed quickly;

5)      Cambodian Embassies and Consulates based in China and elsewhere must coordinate to repatriate victims.


Full report please download from attached file below

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Chhan Sokunthea, Head of Women’s and Children’s Rights and Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, 012 344 719 (Khmer and English)

Ms. Lim Mony, Deputy Head of Women’s and Children’s Rights and Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, 012 834 449 (Khmer)