A pedophile is a person who is sexually attracted to a child or children, and pedophilia is not only a crime but a disease – a psychological disorder.
Government authorities in the US keep track of sex offenders through a registration system under which offenders’ residential addresses and details of their activities are made available to the public.
Some sex offenders are barred from living in close proximity to schools and day-care facilities, so many of them flee the country and move to Cambodia.
As ABC World News reported, “Americans and foreigners come to Cambodia because of the country’s situations: people are poor and the police are corrupt.”
Cambodia, and primarily the resort town of Sihanoukville, is a magnet for pedophiles.
Legislation recently enacted in the Kingdom states that if you mess with the law, you will be thrown in jail. But this wasn’t always the case.
Many sex offenders and pedophiles bribe court officials, police and authorities, and are acquitted.
If you have loads of money, you receive a “free pass” to get out of jail, just like in the board game Monopoly.
There is hope, however. The highest-profile such case in Cambodian history was that of a Russian pedophile who was pardoned at the government’s request in December last year, but has now been arrested again.
This week, authorities detained him outside Phnom Penh, and he will be deported back to Russia.
But it’s not just Westerners or foreigners who commit these crimes.
As an NGO report pointed out, “Many of the sexual predators of under-age children are locals, primarily the Cambodian elites.”
In Cambodian culture, it is believed that if you have sex with a virgin, you will have good luck and power.
Parents do not want to sell their children, but because of their desperately impoverished situation, they believe they have no other choice.
The anti-pedophile, non-government human-rights organisation Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) has been working since 2003 to combat the sexual exploitation of children.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with Interpol, has implemented the “Project Childhood” program, which focuses on prevention, protection and recovery to safeguard vulnerable children and bring the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation to justice.
But it takes more than organisations to help fight this; it takes the government and society to work together.
The Cambodian government and Cambodian society need to put an end to the market demand and the market supplier.
Enforcement of the law needs to be in place, and must abide by the current legislation, which requires tour groups, guesthouses and hotels to report to authorities the knowledge, or suspicion, of sexual contact between an adult and a minor.
Please remember the innocent children who are supposed to become our future, not be used as sex toys for these bastards.
Finally, it’s up to parents to protect their prize possession, their children.
Parents, be aware of your children’s environment and their activities. Keep your eyes open, and listen to your children.
The best weapons against a pedophile will always be an involved parent and a concerned community. As Hillary Rodham Clinton, the US secretary of state, would say: “It takes a village.”
The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.