Cambodia: campaigners welcome new law to fight sex trafficking

 In a major breakthrough, the Cambodian parliament has finally presented and unanimously approved a new law to fight human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Until this week, the country had only limited legislation, dating back to 1966, which has made it one of the world's major destination for paedophiles and sex tourism. The new law, which has been under preparation since December 2007, consists of 52 articles to be applied more rigorously in cases of kidnapping for trafficking or sexual exploitation of women and minors, with punishments of up to 20 years in prison and heavy fines. "This law is a great step forward towards global reform in our country's judicial system," commented Ang Vong Vattana, Justice Minister of Cambodia. She noted that the entire legislative system in Cambodia was in urgent need of updating. The new law, the Minister promised, will be scrupulously observed. According to groups like UNICEF and other international organisations, Cambodian minors and women are often taken to other countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, where they are made slaves, or become victims of sexual abuse or forced marriages, or organ trafficking. The percentile of AIDS victims in the country is extremely high: over half of the children who have been exploited have been tested positive. 35% of Cambodian prostitutes are minors and 43% of these, are infected with the AIDS virus. The cause of the situation is almost always poverty. Often children are sold by their own families, in hopes of offering them a better future. The newly approved law shows the nation's desire to turn things around and fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The small Catholic community of Cambodia has always had a strong presence in assisting minors and women who have been victims of exploitation and trafficking, through prevention centres, recuperation centres, and helping in their social reintegration. Source: Fides