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Is Your Southeast Asia Vacation Supporting Child Sex-Trafficking?

Cambodia Travel
by Faz Abdul Gaffa-Marsh Jul 23, 2015

“You can go Cambodia, Phnom Penh. The place is called Svay Pak. There are many there you can try. Age around 6 to 16. Depending on what u want to do. I find 12 to 14 year olds the best as they are freshest and is becoming a grown up girl soon. Innocent too. :) and very curious about sex.”

A recent article by the Washington Post highlighted a conversation between an undercover officer and a pedophile named Chan Chun Hong who was planning to visit Svay Pak, Cambodia, to have sex with children. Svay Pak is an economically disadvantaged fishing village in Cambodia, close to the nation’s capital, that is infamous for being a child sex destination.

Cambodia is no stranger to tales of mothers selling their own daughters to brothels. The statistics are scary. SHE Rescue Home says that in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia, approximately 30% of sex workers are between 12-17 years of age, most of whom are also victims of human trafficking. Several factors have made the country the way it is, with child sex offenders as one of their main tourism revenues. Mark Capaldi, senior researcher for Ecpat International, an organization committed to combating the sexual exploitation of children, said in an article for CNN “Insufficiently enforced laws, corruption, and the failure to address more overarching problems such as poverty and the negative side effects of globalization have made it a challenge for the country to shed the unenviable reputation as a destination for child sex.”

The reason why parents can renounce their parental duties has a lot to do with the country’s very recent, brutal past: Khmer Rouge completely destroyed educational, religious and social structures during its reign. They lost education and the moralities that Buddhism provided.

Before you book a hotel, or patronize a restaurant, do a little background work to support businesses that are trying to make a difference. Below is a list of Cambodian businesses doing what they can to help the cause, and other social responsibilities.

Blue Lime

The Blue Lime is a gorgeous boutique hotel that is, in their own words, “strongly committed to socially responsible tourism.“ It’s a 23-room rustic boutique hotel that serves up delicious curries, and offers top notch service. There is a sign in front of the hotel that says, “sex travelers not welcomed” and we reckon it should be used everywhere in the city. 19Z, Phnom Penh, Cambodia +855 23 222 260

The Pavilion

The Pavilion hotel, located smack in the historical circle  of Phnom Penh is too, committed to responsible tourism, which is a nicer way of saying that they’ll throw out perverts, pedophiles and sex tourists. The hotel is upmarket, and they have conscientiously preserved the original architecture of the buildings, which are part of Cambodia’s remaining architectural patrimony. 227 19, Phnom Penh, Cambodia +855 23 222 280

The Kabiki

For those travelling with little kiddos, head to The Kabiki, another hotel that supports the fight against sex trafficking epidemic.  They support a number of other important social causes as well. The hotel is gorgeous too, with incredibly helpful and knowledgeable staff that will go out of their way to make sure that you’re comfortable. 22, street 264 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia – +855 (0) 23 22 22 90 

Friends Restaurant

If you’re looking for a clean restaurant that serves up local food without much of a culture shock to your system, go to Friends. Run by local non-profit Mith Samlanh, in partnership with international NGO Friends International, the company trains street kids and marginalized youth in every aspect of running a restaurant so they can go out for higher paying jobs, or even to set up smaller businesses of their own. Try their Cambodian curries, or salads here!

#215, Street 13

 Café Living Room

Popular with expats, Café Living Room dishes up both local and international cuisine and employs and pays a fair living wage for graduates of programs in Phnom Penh for vulnerable and at-risk groups.

#9, Street 306

 Lotus Blanc

The restaurant Lotus Blanc not only serves top-notch cuisine (try anything with their tamarind sauce), but also runs alongside a French NGO ( that tackles hunger and poverty by providing education and skills training to children on the street.

#61B, Street 51   

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