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"We tend to often hear reports in the media about pedophilia, exploitation of very young children.But the majority of sexual exploitation of children is of adolescents, and that's taking place in commercial sex venues." The abusers would often be local, situational offenders, he says.Svay Pak, a dusty shantytown on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, is at the heart of this exploitative trade.As one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in one of Asia's poorest countries – nearly half the population lives on less than per day -- the poverty in the settlement is overwhelming."When they sleep with me, they feel very happy," she says."But for me, I feel very bad." The men who abuse the children of Svay Pak fit a number of profiles.The Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, 2008 has the objective to suppress the acts of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in order to protect the rights and dignity of human beings, to improve the health and welfare of citizens, to preserve and enhance good national customs, and to implement the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish perpetrators of Trafficking in Persons.
So Neoung sent her daughter to a brothel to earn more.
"We didn't believe it until we saw vanload after vanload of kids." Weak law enforcement, corruption, grinding poverty and the fractured social institutions left by the country's turbulent recent history have helped earn Cambodia an unwelcome reputation for child trafficking, say experts.
UNICEF estimates that children account for a third of the 40,000-100,000 people in the country's sex industry.
They include pedophile sex tourists, who actively seek out sex with prepubescent children, and more opportunistic "situational" offenders, who take advantage of opportunities in brothels to have sex with adolescents.
Sex tourists tend to hail from affluent countries, including the West, South Korea, Japan and China, but research suggests Cambodian men remain the main exploiters of child prostitutes in their country.