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The rapid transition of Cambodia from a war-torn, centrally planned economy to that of market driven economy brings with it great potential for growth and development. The world economy is showing some encouraging signs of a recovery. For countries like Cambodia, which are export-dependent, this is particularly good news. But, while we have probably avoided another global Great Depression, policy makers can’t yet relax. Many Cambodians are unable to capitalize on new opportunities due to—among many factors such as high unemployment rates, human trafficking, illiteracy, inadequate law enforcement and the unavailability of trauma support is far from over, and is at least as damaging to countries as the economic downturn that has received more attention in poverty.
Last week, I met and interviewed Tan Eng, 22, a young lady described symptoms of depression and suffered from guilt and shame, as well as a well-founded fear of contracting the HIV virus. She described how she 'goes away in her mind' when having sex with a client and said she feels that her soul has left her body. “I would not have sold my body if my family has had enough food to eat or education”, she said sadly, “What I am doing now I just hope I can help my young siblings to study and for our daily food.” I found that poverty is the main concern to bring girl and women fail into sex industry.
Once I saw her, I felt so pity her as she is now having a bellyache as she has tried to drink beer every night she goes to work to serve her guests. I asked her why she didn’t try to drink it and she immediately replied me “Oh it is really impossible for the work as mine because if I had not drunk so they would not have given me money then how can I raise and help my family?” she is an oldest sister in her family – 3 sisters and 1 brother. I can imagine how hard to live in this world without education, Eng is a strong lady as even she has been driven to sex work but she always hopes to educate her siblings out of this field. She made me remember my past when my parents fought the barriers to send me to school to get education. Our lives are tough because of living in poverty so it is our obstacle to get education though.
Cambodia’s achievements in education in the 1960s and early 1970s were systematically erased by the Khmer Rouge in the second half of the 1970s, when schools, equipment, and books were destroyed, effectively abolishing education. It is estimated that 75-80 percent of all teachers and secondary school students fled or were murdered in 1975-79. Post-Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has made impressive progress in expanding schooling. There was a concerted effort to rebuild the education infrastructure, but this had to be done under tight budgetary constraints. Moreover, during Khmer Rouge regime was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million people by execution, starvation and forced labor.
Until now, most people are still getting angry with the Pol Pot who killed their families including my my uncle, grandparents who were killed. I am sure that not only my family who angers with the Pol Pot but many families have lost their beloved one – I visited Toul Sleng Museum (Genocide Museum) last week and met a woman who was selling Cambodia history book there and I asked her how she feels when she hears the word Pol Pot? Her name is Chan Sophal, 47 years old. “I feel so regret and anger with the Pol Pot – I am sad of losing my family because of the cruel things they had used to my family until they died.” she said extremely. It is a bad thing that they used with their own nation, I think Mrs. Sophal is so angry once hear the word Pol Pot. Anyways, she expressed that “Even I still remember and anger with the Pol Pot but I am happy to bring all these books to sell here because I see many tourists come to visit here and they are really interested and eager to know about it”.
Poverty is the main concern for the people of Cambodia. The increasing social divide and inequality between the small elite and the poor majority has created many social upheavals. Cambodia is known as one of the world poorest countries. An approximately 36% of the population lives below the basic needs poverty line. In addition, poverty rate in the rural areas is 40%, four times as high as Phnom Penh, which is only 10%. According to the Asia Development Bank announced on April 13 2010 that Gross Domestic Growth (GDP) of Cambodian economic growth is projected for 4.5 per cent in 2010 after the world economy recovered from the financial crisis.
It can cause Human Trafficking which is included women and men who have been trafficked to neighbor countries such as Vietnam, Thai, Malaysia, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. Cambodian men, women, and children are trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation in Thailand, Malaysia, Macao, and Taiwan. Men are trafficked for forced labor in the agriculture, fishing, and construction industries. Women are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor in factories or as domestic servants. Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor in organized begging rings, soliciting, street vending, and flower selling. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Youth Rehabilitations found that 76 percent of trafficked persons returned from Thailand had come from families who owned land, 93 percent owned their own house and had no debt on the land or house, and 47 percent stated that their mother was the facilitator of their trafficking.
Many children and women who are out of school, they don’t know how to write and read so most of them have easy been driven to sex job. It is like Eng’s story that she finished only grade 4 so she can’t be able to work like some people who get education. Eng’s salary is a bit low as she works for Blue Club which is also a big one in Phnom Penh City where many rich men like to go there. Every night she earns at least 3-5 $ plus her salary 100$ so totally she earns 200-250$ per month anyways it is a rough job that she has never wished to do it. Sex Industry is only the easies job for those women who live in poverty – it can recover their lives avoided of starvation.
While I was talking to her, I saw her eyes were so red and I felt so sad to talk to her also. Her life is struggling to try to live in this cyber world where only a darkness place for her life is only. She told me that she wanted to learn a skill such cooking, beauty or tailoring skill but her siblings are so small “they can’t study if I quit my job now so it is only job that can help my family to recover our lives” ,she added, “I don’t care about myself but I do hope I can help my siblings to get high education and parents to live a better live.” she smiled.
Her sisters are Thida, 20, studies grade 12; Theara, 19, studies grade 10; Theary, 17, grade 8 and her youngest brother is Bora, 15, is a fabulous student and has also been offered a 12 years scholarship from Belty International School in Cambodia, a famous and expensive among privates schools in Cambodia. I think it is a good thing that Eng has tried and fought the obstacle to help their siblings go to school and I also understand that it is what she keeps working her current job just because she had never thought to recover her life now but she has only given her dream to her little sisters and brothers to have better lives in society.
Enrollment rates are so low among the poor – it is vary considerably between the poor and the better-off in Cambodia. Only 55 percent of all children of primary school age in the poorest quintile of the population attend school, compared with 79 percent for the top quintile. These disparities increase at higher levels of education, with virtually no children from the poorest quintile enrolled beyond primary school. Both supply and demand factors are important in explaining low enrollment among the poor and the significant disparities in enrollment across income groups. Half of the rural population does not have a primary school in the village and more than 95 percent have no secondary school.
Further limited and poor quality rural roads aggravate poor physical access to schools, schooling is also extremely expensive for the poor; the cost of one child in primary school takes up a quarter of all nonfood spending per capita in the poorest quintile. Quality of schooling (as measured by such factors as availability of teachers and proportion of trained teachers) is another contributing factor. The probability of enrollment is also strongly associated with gender, with boys more likely than girls to be enrolled.
Last week, I met and interviewed a gorgeous woman, 40, who is so kind to all people and especially for those children who are needing help – live in poverty. Her name is Phymean Noun, a CNN Heroes 2008, a Founder and Executive Director of People Improvement Organization. She said that“My life is connected to those children who need help; nobody wants to work on the garbage dump and sleep on the street,” she added, “I feel very joyful and warm when I see the poor children happy, enjoying themselves, smiling with hope for the future. I Now am very happy to see them enjoying study at PIO schools and not worried about paying the teachers like in public school.”
Without education, the future for girls is one of limited opportunity and low-wage labor and in some cases, prostitution. It is why Mrs. Phymean decided to help those poor children to get education without paying any money. It is a good sign to intend to help as many people to have access to education as resources will allow.
Nowadays PIO has three main programs are Outreach Center, Beauty Salon and Community Savings. PIO has a building school and teachers to teach those pity children. Her Outreach centers are at Stung Mean Chey is the name of the municipal garbage dump in Phnom Penh, at Borey Keila Center located in the center of the Phnom Penh. These slums are home to about 10,000 families including hundreds of kids who are too poor to go to school and at Borei Santipheap II, is a newly developed area on the outskirts of the city that is the settlement area for many of the people who lived in the riverside slum close to the center of the city where Mrs Phymean is still needing help and donation from gorgeous people to continue these efforts and to build Santipheap II center that the students and community can take pride in.
For Beauty Salon is for adult women who wish to get a skill and Community Savings, Livelihood training is an important aspect to teenage girls in Cambodia. Without skills many girls face a dire future with the possibility of prostitution or sexual enslavement. There are15 trainees aged between 14-18 years were selected as beneficiaries in the project. 7 students are from the Stung Mean Chay School, while the other 8 are unskilled girls who were working on the garbage dump. They are attending classes for 10 months and will then get a paid internship for 2 months. All trainees received one bicycle each from PIO and a living allowance of $6 per person every week.
The last program of PIO is Community Savings - many in the community live hand to mouth. As a family can only earn a few dollars a day they are unable to buy rice in quantities that would make it cheaper per serving. It is a program that allows families to save small amounts of money with PIO to purchase rice in quantities that allows a family to purchase it for less.
It is great that a local NGO, PIO, is trying to help those lovely children to get better lives and it is a wonderful partnership to reduce poverty in Cambodia. Nowadays, PIO has helped children and women almost 10,000 Cambodians within the year 2004 -2010.
Also, Cambodia has a high unemployment rate, like many economies, it has been hit severely by the global economic and jobs crisis. While the country’s economy grew by over 10 per cent per year between 2004 and 2007, as the impact of the crisis spread across the globe Cambodia’s growth slowed. It was 6.7 per cent in 2008 and international experts expect it to contract in 2009 because of this downturn, tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, particularly in key sectors such as garments, tourism, and construction so it easily turn them fail into sex industry.
In Cambodia, the response to the crisis included a stimulus package that was targeted to boost spending on infrastructure, social programs and agriculture. In addition a tourism policy taskforce was recreated, with the aim of upgrading the industry and attracting more regional tourists.
Anyways, I think the economic recovery is underway if Cambodia continues spending hard-earned funds on stimulus measures and the employment situation won’t pick up naturally as the economy turns around.
Firstly, around the world the jobs crisis is much larger than the unemployment figures suggest. In addition to those who are out of work completely, millions of other people are currently on shorter hours or involuntarily working part-time. These people risk losing their jobs and sources of income entirely if companies become unviable, governments withdraw support or the economic rebound is not strong or swift enough.
Secondly, there is a significant risk that the jobs crisis will have long-lasting, negative social and economic implications. Workers without a job could become long-term unemployed or drop out of the labor market entirely.
So we should welcome the green shoots of recovery, we must be conscious that, in Cambodia and elsewhere, they remain fragile and that recovery can not be complete as long as the jobs crisis continues. An “early exit” from support measures may seem an attractive option, but it could lead to a sluggish recovery process that drags on for years. This is something the women and men in Cambodia looking for a job right now do not want or need.
I hope the government should look to enforce the immigration law more rigorously to curb illegal foreign workers in Cambodia. This will help reduce the number of young Cambodians who are forced to make the migration in the other direction. It is not only the job of the government however; domestic businesses and banks must also ensure that they are creating as many jobs as possible for Cambodian workers. One job may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it is a chance for a struggling Cambodian to get on their feet, and that is truly something worth standing up for.
Moreover, the government should take more attention on how to help those women who have fallen into sex industry by proving them new training skills. Educate them drop that area of work and come back to learn skills such as cooking, knitting, tailoring, beauty or something that can help their lives better beside sex job. Moreover, the government should concentrate on the unemployment rate – help the citizen get more jobs, strengthen the law enforcement and structure and attract investment to the country so the citizen will be offered jobs so we will have many opportunities to work.