PRO­VID­ING HOPE

Vol­un­teers at Agape In­ter­na­tional Mis­sions, sup­ported by the Hong Kong Fed­er­a­tion of Women Lawyers and Le Lu­mière Events, are ded­i­cated to fight­ing child sex traf­fick­ing in Cam­bo­dia

Tatler Hong Kong - - Tatler Focus -

When dis­cussing hu­man traf­fick­ing, it’s all too easy to feel pow­er­less in the face of the crush­ing sta­tis­tics. The UN’S In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO) es­ti­mates that there are 40.3 mil­lion vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing glob­ally, 25 per cent of them chil­dren who have been ab­ducted, abused and sold into slav­ery.

While the num­ber of vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing—a US$150 bil­lion in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to the ILO—IS in­creas­ing glob­ally, it is de­creas­ing in Cam­bo­dia, thanks to an­ti­traf­fick­ing NGOS such as Agape In­ter­na­tional Mis­sions (AIM). AIM is a Chris­tian or­gan­i­sa­tion that works at the grassroots level, pro­mot­ing aware­ness and ad­vo­cat­ing change in com­mu­ni­ties where it’s most needed. Here it has the sup­port of the Hong Kong Fed­er­a­tion of Women Lawyers (also known as Hong Kong Women Lawyers) and Le Lu­mière Events.

To date, AIM’S anti-slav­ery ef­forts are re­spon­si­ble for the res­cue and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of more than 1,000 chil­dren and teenagers in Cam­bo­dia. And with the open­ing in April this year of a new school for 1,500 stu­dents in Svay Pak, a vil­lage just out­side Ph­nom Penh, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has

ex­panded the ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to peo­ple who pre­vi­ously had none.

Sarah Wong, who is head of le­gal at Amundi Hong Kong, vice pres­i­dent at Hong Kong Women Lawyers and an AIM am­bas­sador, cites as an ex­am­ple the case of Srey T, who was traf­ficked to a brothel for 22 days and sold to men for sex a to­tal of 198 times.

“Af­ter her res­cue, she was pro­vided sanc­tu­ary at a safe house and en­tered AIM’S restora­tion pro­gramme, which of­fered coun­selling and, im­por­tantly, time to heal, both men­tally and phys­i­cally,” says Wong. “She then went to work for the AIM em­ploy­ment cen­tre while study­ing at night. Cur­rently, she is a so­cial worker on the SWAT team, help­ing other sur­vivors face their next day with hope and en­cour­age­ment.”

For all the vol­un­teers at AIM and Hong Kong Women Lawyers, a com­mit­ment to stop the cy­cle of traf­fick­ing and ex­ploita­tion in Cam­bo­dia is a moral im­per­a­tive. “We only have two choices—do some­thing or do noth­ing,” says Wong. “I be­lieve that those who are voice­less should not be left be­hind, and we can all make a con­tri­bu­tion, how­ever big or small, to help­ing chil­dren live a life of their own choice,

GIV­ING BACK From left: Leanne Lam, Agape In­ter­na­tional Mis­sions (AIM) am­bas­sador and founder of Le Lu­mière Events; Melissa Stock, AIM’S co-coun­try di­rec­tor for Cam­bo­dia; Sarah Wong, vice pres­i­dent for the Hong Kong Fed­er­a­tion of Women Lawyers

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