Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection police officers in Phnom Penh arrested a woman on Wednesday on charges she was forcing seven children to beg.

Municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection chief Keo Thea on Thursday identified the woman as a 58-year-old Cambodian national. But she didn’t have a proper job or residence. Police sent her to court on Thursday.

“She forced children to beg for money for her. My office has sent the seven children to the Municipal Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation,” he said.

Thea said according to the suspect, she led the children every morning to beg for money at a garden near Sokha Hotel. They begged until the evening when she took them to sleep under canvases of houses in Chroy Changvar commune.

Each child had takings of between 20,000 and 30,000 riel from guests each day. But the woman took almost all the money and each child was given only 1,000 to 2,000 riel to spend.

Thea said the arrest was made with the cooperation of the social affairs department in Phnom Penh, Agape International Missions (AIM), Punlork Thmey and local authorities in the Phnom Penh capital’s commune.

Municipal Social Affairs Department director Mom Chandany said on Thursday that all seven children between the ages of two and six are illiterate.

One boy said they live near Chrang Chamreh commune, but Chandany said she has yet to take the boy’s words seriously for fear that the children don’t know their residences well.

She said her staff are asking for their histories and checking their health. They are searching for parents or relatives, but they have yet to find any.

In the event they don’t have parents, the social affairs department has a centre for them to stay at.