SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – Last week, four perpetrators were convicted for sex trafficking crimes. Two had been involved in transporting girls from one province to another, and two owned the karaoke bar where girls were then sold for sexual exploitation.
In July 2011, IJM helped local police to rescue nine girls and women who had been trafficked to a brothel fronting as a small karaoke bar. IJM Cambodia lawyer Saroeun Sek represented the trafficking survivors in court, and the convictions are an important step in the survivors' own journey of healing from the abuse.
"The convictions will be an important deterrent to stop the traffickers from exploiting other girls," explains IJM's Saroeun Sek. One of the perpetrators is a public official. Although his sentence of five years in prison does not meet the minimum amount of time mandated by law, the fact that a military officer has been convicted of a trafficking crime is an important step towards curbing corruption in Cambodia. Sek adds, "This conviction shows you cannot break the law and expect to get away with it – even if you're a government official."
The convicted military officer is at-large, and a warrant for his immediate arrest has been issued. "If sex trafficking is going to end in my country, the laws must be stronger than those who seek to exploit young girls for their own profit," says IJM's Saroeun Sek.