Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trafficked women back home

Trafficked women back home

Trafficked women back home

Two victims of human trafficking returned to Phnom Penh from Malaysia yesterday, speaking of a hellish ordeal that began when a broker offered them jobs at a shopping centre where they would supposedly earn about US$700 per month.

The two women, aged 28 and 30, identified themselves by the pseudonyms “Srey Nith” and “Phalla” during a press conference yesterday at the office of local NGO Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility Cambodia.

“The brokers arranged for us to fly to Malaysia and continue to [the state of] Sabah to be workers at the shopping centre, but when we arrived there, we were taken to work at a karaoke bar and they confiscated our passports,” Srey Nith said, adding that they had arrived there in September.

“We worked at the karaoke bar for three months, and sometimes the employer tried to force us to have sex with him and with the clients, but we pretended to be sick and were able to escape from the sexual harassment.”

Srey Nith and Phalla said they were arrested by immigration police after having worked at the karaoke bar for three months and were detained at the Jabatan Immigration Centre until their departure for Phnom Penh this week.

Ya Navuth, executive director of CARAM-Cambodia, said that the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, the Cambodian Ambassador to Malaysia and CARAM-Malaysia had begun negotiations to free the women with the Malaysian immigration department after receiving complaints from their parents.

“It was good luck for the victims that they were be able to communicate with their parents and that their parents filed complaints,” he said.

There have been about 200 female Cambodian victims of human trafficking rescued from Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand since 2000, Ya Navuth said. He added that victims were often trafficked after they married foreigners or were lured to foreign countries by false job offers.

Chiv Phally, deputy director of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department at the Interior Ministry, said yesterday that police hoped to build on the success of the rescue by arresting their traffickers.

“We will interview the victims in order to collect information that will lead to the arrest of the brokers, and we will bring them to trial,” he said.

About 95 percent of all Cambodian labourers who go abroad do so through illegal channels, according to statistics quoted at an inter-governmental conference on migrant workers in Phnom Penh last month.

The lack of safeguards for migrant workers in Malaysia in particular has been thrust into the spotlight in recent months following a spate of alleged human rights abuses, including rape and forced detention, that have allegedly befallen Cambodian workers in the neighbouring country.


  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • PM's Bodyguard commander hits back at US

    The commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU) Hing Bun Heang on Sunday dismissed a short video clip that went viral on social media in which he says he is preparing for a war with the United States over its aggressiveness towards

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth