Cambodia's thriving sex industry and its porous border with Vietnam has the country awash with women and girls swept away from their Mekong Delta homes and subjected to lives of exploitation. It costs $60 a year to keep a child in school in Vietnam, and that's not a light expense for families earning $300 to $400 a year, John Anner, the executive director of the East Meets West Foundation (EMW), writes in a piece posted by the Pacific News Service.
The options are bleak, so when a family is approached with cash up front and promises of more to come, it can be hard to say no to sending their daughters away to work. But instead of the promised job in a restaurant or as a nanny, the girls are made to work in brothels, rented out as sex slaves to Australian, Asian, American, and Western European men. The An Giang/Dong Thap Alliance to Prevent Trafficking (ADAPT), a partnership between three organizations, including EMW, is working to give families and their children another choice.
Working with a $200,000 grant from the US Agency for
International Development, ADAPT is offering scholarships to
at-risk girls, making it financially feasible for them to finish
high school. For those who have graduated, ADAPT offers vocational
training and job placement services, making it easier for them to
eschew the sex trade for a safer line of work. And though ADAPT's
focus is on prevention, the group offers reintegration services for
those women who want to leave the sex trade. With their real-world,
concrete approach, ADAPT is pointing the way out of a life of
servitude for Vietnamese girls and hopes to transform the life
prospects of thousands of girls.
-- Nick Rose
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