Cambodia's anti-slavery efforts questioned
Published: Nov. 12, 2011 at 7:00 PM
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Human rights activists say more action is necessary to stop the trafficking of maids from Cambodia to Malaysia.
Cambodian Member of Parliament Mu Sochua said a recently enacted law banning the practice of sending domestic workers to Malaysia, essentially trapping them into debt-bondage, has not stopped companies from recruiting, training and sending women to Malaysia, CNN reported Friday.
Many Cambodian maids were recruited by labor agencies promising them more money to work in Malaysia. Once they got there, they were forced to hand over their passports and put in situations much like indentured servitude, said Manfred Hornung, a legal adviser for Licadho, a Cambodian rights group.
Just a few days after CNN reported the conditions of these women in October, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a law banning the practice.
CNN's story has awakened the whole country to the human trafficking issue, Sochua said. "I have to say that this piece is just one little part of the whole problem, which is much worse," Sochua said.
The lawmaker added the country's ministries of labor and interior "are not taking any action, noting "many officials and familial members of some ministers actually own these dubious agencies."
Licadho claims that three days after the bill was signed into law Oct. 15, 25 Cambodian maids, wearing shirts with the name of a recruiting agency on them, checked in for a flight heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"It is a heartbreaking story," said Sochua. "I constantly meet with many parents who come to tell me that they don't know where their girls are, they simply disappeared and lost contacts with families after girls left to Malaysia."
The trafficking of women, often young girls, for sexual exploitation and the abuse of sex workers is also rampant in Cambodia, despite the country passing a law in 2009 meant to protect sex workers, CNN reported.