"Can you remember what you were doing when you were 12 years old? Little athletics, pokemon, chasing your brothers and sisters around the house while mum made afternoon snacks? What ever it was, it probably didn't include being a child prostitute!"
Cambodia has an enormous problem with cyclical poverty, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Even more concerning is how these issues are affecting the most venerable members of the Cambodian community. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, into forced labour and sex slavery. A recent Unicef survey found that an enormous 35% of documented prostitutes are children under the age of 16!
The majority of offenders are locals but given the magnitude of the problem, it has also become a destination for child sex tourism. This issue is so prevalent that an enormous 64% of children in Cambodia said they knew children who have been sexually abused.
Poor nations like Cambodia are a cheaper manufacturing option for large companies looking to offset their expenses and make larger profits.
The pressure from these international corporations ensures that the price of labour is kept low.
Unfortunately this becomes the perfect breeding ground for exploitation and forced labour.
In Cambodia, of the 4.9million children between the ages of 0 - 14years, an astronomical 1.8 million of them are forced into child labour. Thats just over 36% of all Cambodian children!
What if this was happening in our backyard?
The population of children in Australia between 0 - 14 years of age is surprisingly similar at approximately 4.4million children. To put it in perspective imagine the population of children at your local primary school.. maybe 1000 pupils? Then imagine that 1 in 3 were forced into child labour, often after being sold by their families…
This is clearly a massive issue and it isn't one that can’t be fixed over night. One way that people can help is by purchasing sustainably. That is choosing products which are manufactured by ethical means.
There are also lots of great charities who you could also support. I have attached their links below.
Recently our students collaborated with a sustainable fashion label Outland Denim.
Outland does incredible work, teaching young Cambodia women manufacturing skills and employing them to make their denim jeans. The impact on the local Cambodia communities where they manufacture is massive. Employment like this helps to break the cycle of poverty where families choose to sell their children because they cant afford to live.
At HUXLEY we wanted to help raise awareness of this humanitarian issue and help inspire people to shop more ethically and responsibly. Our editorial is aptly named SEX SELLS, since it does quite literally in Cambodia and in other developing nations. With the help of some amazing young models from local Gold Coast agencies, our students created makeup looks which made our young modes look much older than they are. The idea being, if it makes you uncomfortable to know that a 16year old girls is posing, oiled up with smokey sensual eyes, then to know that children under 14 are sold into sex slavery would seem like a much bigger issue!