How the Cambodian Government Can Address the Human Trafficking Problem Without Stifling Its Economy

Published: 2021-07-27
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George Washington University
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The recent rise in human trafficking reported in the developing world has been a subject of great concern for the global community. Much concern has focused on the increase in the number of victims subjected to all forms of human rights abuses such as forced labor, sex slavery, and illegal organ trade among others. While some nations in the world have made great strides in dealing with the illicit trade, nations such as Cambodia still lag behind in the war against human trafficking. One of the major reason cited for the Cambodian governments inability to address the human trafficking menace is that much of the proceeds from the illicit trade is ploughed back into the Cambodian economy hence earning the government revenue. Economic disparity is also another reason why a majority of Cambodians are vulnerable to the trade. It is the aim of this proposal to look at how the Cambodian government can address the human trafficking problem without stifling its economy.

Shortened Introduction

Globally, human trafficking has become a widespread problem with reports indicating that the illicit trade has become a $12 billion industry. For some nations such as Cambodia, the effects of human trafficking are widely felt. The nations economic disparity makes citizens vulnerable to the trade. The government earns more revenue from the trade hence making it difficult for it to address the menace. As a result, there has been much pressure from the international community on the Cambodian government to address the problem. However, little has been done as dealing with the illicit trade would stifle the Cambodian economy. Therefore, research is proposed on how best to answer the research question: How can the Cambodian government address the human trafficking menace without hurting its economy, that is heavily dependent on the proceeds from the illicit trade?

Statement of Problem

Recent studies conducted by the United States Department of State and Independent NGOs in 2013 examined and reported a high prevalence of Children among individuals in various commercial sex establishment in three of Cambodias largest cities (Davy 2014). The study showed that 8.2% of the sex workers were children ( 2016). Previously, the Cambodian government had been classified within Tier 2, a category that indicates a minimal commitment by the government in dealing with the human trafficking problem. Dealing with the human trafficking problem in Cambodia has been difficult because of the high revenue earned by the government from the illicit trade (Keo et al. 2013). With much pressure from the international community on the Cambodian government, there is need to conduct studies on how the government can deal with the human trafficking problem without hurting its economy.

Prevailing themes of the Literature Review

The following are some of the prevalent themes emerging from a careful analysis of the literature on the subject of the human trafficking problem in Cambodia:

Recent cases of human trafficking reported in various parts of the developing world serve as a perfect reminder that slavery is back, albeit in a modern form.

Despite many efforts from the international community, no organization has made a clear-cut impact on abolishing or reducing the menace in any of the regions

Southeast Asian nations such as Cambodia, have become transit points and source points of the trade.

Extreme poverty in the Southeast nation has increased the vulnerability of the Cambodian population towards the human trafficking problem.

Cambodian government earns much revenue from the illicit trade making it difficult to address the menace

A dearth of knowledge on human trafficking problem exists, therefore, making it necessary to research on how governments such as the Cambodian can address the menace without stifling their economies

Discussion of Theoretical Framework

Being an international crime, most nations have come out clearly in condemnation of the illicit human trafficking trade. However, it has not been the case for some nations such as Cambodia, in the Southeast Asian part of the world. The country remains the largest source and transit point in the world. The Cambodian government has shown little effort in the fight against the illicit trade making the nation one of the most porous and vulnerable. The fear of hurting its economy that is highly dependent on revenue collected from the proceeds of human trafficking problem makes it difficult to address the problem. Therefore, I intend to use this aspect as the basis for the researchs theoretical framework. This would help in the identification of the answer to the research question. Besides, it will help in testing the null hypothesis that the Cambodian government cannot address the human trafficking problem without stifling its economy.

Research Methodology

Qualitative research methods will be used in the research. It will entail the analysis and comparison of information from various studies on how the Cambodian government has benefited from the illicit trade on human trafficking. As a result, it would be easier to make a critical and comprehensive judgment on how and what the Cambodian government can do to address the human trafficking problem without hurting its economy.


Davy, Deanna. 2014. Understanding the complexities of responding to child sex trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy34 (11/12): 793-816.

Keo, Chenda, Thierry Bouhours, Roderic Broadhurst, and Brigitte Bouhours. 2014. Human trafficking and moral panic in Cambodia. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 653 (1): 202-24.

Maher, Lisa, Thomas Dixon, Pisith Phlong, Julie Mooney-Somers, Ellen Stein, and Kimberly Page. 2015. Conflicting rights: How the prohibition of human trafficking and sexual exploitation infringes the right to health of female sex workers in phnom penh, Cambodia. Health and Human Rights 17 (1): E102.

Marks, Eliza, and Anna Olsen. 2015. Policy and practice: The role of trade unions in reducing migrant workers vulnerability to forced labour and human trafficking in the greater mekong subregion. Anti-Trafficking Review(5).

Munro, Peter. 2012. Harbouring the illicit: Borderlands and human trafficking in South East Asia. Crime, Law and Social Change 58 (2): 159-77.

Steinfatt, Thomas M. 2011. Sex trafficking in Cambodia: Fabricated numbers versus empirical evidence. Crime, Law and Social Change 56 (5): 443-62.

Takamatsu, Kana. 2004. Human security and international assistance: Combating human trafficking in Cambodia. Gender Technology and Development 8 (2): 277-85.

Weitzer, Ronald. 2014. New directions in research on human trafficking. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 653 (1): 6-24.


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