Protect Victims of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

by Action Pour Les Enfants - APLE Cambodia
Protect Victims of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Lawyer visiting client to provide legal counseling
Lawyer visiting client to provide legal counseling

In the present report covering period of June to December 2021, the coronavirus has been key subject of discussion and how it has affected the lives of those marginalized people, especially vulnerable children, including specifically victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. The current situation of the virus spread has significant impacts globally, and specifically the developing country—Cambodia is one of the many.

The coronavirus has changed the usual models of teaching and learnings which all children and youths have been required to do distance learning; it means they need to have internet connection to virtual platforms to interact, exchange ideas, join discussion and do all assigned tasks. Taking the advantage of that the potential child sex offenders have been very quick to adapt their ways of approaches by escalating the use of online communication to target their victims.

In the report period, APLE’s Internet Hotline received a total of 119 cases concerning suspected sexual abuse and exploitation of children; 54 of which were cases involving Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OCSE), including Child Sexual Abuse Materials, Online Grooming, Live Streaming, Sexting and Sextortion. According to APLE’s Internet Hotline Cambodia’s statistic, the number of OCSE cases increased 192% in the same period of June-December 2020 and 2021.

On the support side, APLE’s Victim Support and Assistance (ViSA) team provided immediate psychological support and crisis packages to 24 (F:16) new child victims and 20 family members. These new child victims and family members were identified by police to be victims of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. Additionally, these child victims and families also received pro-bono and impartial legal aid services including legal counseling, legal advises and legal representation during their participation to legal proceedings, both at police investigation stage and judicial proceedings. The supports were not only to meet the needs of victims and families, but also to escalate the adoption of the child-centric/friendly practices to increase the protection of the rights and best interests of child victims.

Given the lengthy legal procedures, APLE’s ViSA team continued to provide both psycho-social and legal support 47 (F:26) and 34 (F: 25) family members of those victims on top of the above number, making the total victims supported 71 and the total victim families 54.  

Further to the support of victims and families in criminal cases, APLE’s ViSA team assisted them to pursue their civil compensation claims after the default judgement of the criminal verdict. The pursuance of civil case normally conducted in Cambodia, as well as in jurisdiction of the country of the foreign offender. As a result, 03 child victims (all males) received a total compensation of 1,200 US dollars (600 US dollars for each of the victims). In addition, one victim has received compensation based on the international verdict of 60,000 US dollars. APLE continued to work in collaboration with international pro-bono lawyers to facilitate supports to child victims to pursue the civil claims in international jurisdiction.

To help mitigate the difficulties of the victims and families, APLE assessed the needs during the spread of coronavirus and lock down and provided 110 welfare support packages, including rice, cane finish, noodle and groceries and hygiene materials such as soap, hand sanitizer and face masks to 54 families of victims from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kandal, Preah Sihanouk, Takeo, Prey Veng and Battambang municipalities and provinces. The welfare packages helped reduce the financial burden of the families who lost jobs and incomes during the pandemic.

Your donation and support really matter and contribute to the changes of lives of those affected by sexual abuse and exploitation.

ViSA team visiting client for a follow-up
ViSA team visiting client for a follow-up

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Lawyer meeting child victim and her family
Lawyer meeting child victim and her family

The project has significant contribution to the change toward strengthening the child protection system in Cambodia. The increased knowledge, skills and capacity to undertake child-friendly investigation has been observed to be in place. After acquired knowledge and skills from attending the training, 92.10% of the selected police (69 police officers) to the evaluation confirmed their application of child-friendly knowledge and skills in their day-to-day investigations of CSEA cases. Apart from their application of skills in the investigation, 73.7% of the police respondents confirmed that they had shared their obtained knowledge with other police officials through meetings and joined investigative work.

In addition, other child protection actors including service providers and especially judicial actors were observed to gradually changes their ways of working with children and their attitude and behavior when addressing court cases involving child as victims in the case. 87.42% of selected children (83 children) who participated in court case proceeding confirmed their satisfaction and confirmed their best interests were at priority consideration and their rights were respected during their entire participations. This is a stepping stone for the long-term and sustainable child-focused changes within the justice system.

A total of 200 (F: 112) child victims received legal aid services, including legal counseling, legal assistance and legal representation by APLE lawyer whilst participating in their court case proceedings. Further to victims, 138 victim’s families (F:107) received legal aid services when participating to court proceedings.

A total of 229 children (F: 111, M:118) received social services as counselling treatment, general education, vocation training, and health and have safe housing by APLE and including APLE’s NGOs partner. Among those, 116 received immediate psychosocial support and counseling at crisis stage when they participate to give statements during police investigation in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kandal, Battambang, Takeo, Prey Veng and Kandal province. In addition, all child victims received crisis support kits which include clothes, shoes, facilitation of medical treatment, and medical materials for the effort to prevent Covid-19. 

Without generous support from someone like you and/or your organization, child victims would have not experienced such respects of their rights during their participation to criminal proceeding. This valuable contribution has made tremendous changes toward the life of child victims.

A boy victim was in his school.
A boy victim was in his school.
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During Covid-19, we at APLE and the child protection community in general need to be much more alert as well as flexible on the needs of children at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation. There are many underlying factors that can increase risk of sexual abuse and exploitation - poverty being one of the main ones.

 

The economic impact of Covid-19 in Cambodia has been far more devastating than the health impact in the country that at the moment stands at zero deaths related to the virus.

 

With the help of some individual donors as well as our main donor foundations, we have distributed welfate kits to 21 families in dire need. Among those families is the family of young Dara (not his real name), a 12 year old boy living  in the Doem Chan Village of Phnom Penh with his family of 6 siblings. Dara was abused by a foreigner in 2018, and we collaborated with a partner organisation to provide further social services whilst we provided the legal representation.  

 

Dara’s mother is a fruit seller who sells fruits mostly to restaurants. They slowly decreased their sales from January until early April, when they completely stopped selling due to many restaurants closing and lack of clients. This, to a family of 8, is of major stress.  

 

APLE provided welfare support and hygiene materials to Dara and his family, to which they have shown a lot of gratitude. We are at the moment coordinating more support for the following months with different partner NGOs as well as donors, and of course, with your help, as it will be difficult for many families to recover from the Covid-19 economic hit.

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Dear friend,

 

We are happy to announce that with your support, APLE's social workers conducted risks and need assessment to 29 child victims and their families in Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2019.

67 new child beneficiaries entered the program, whereas APLE continued to provide social and legal services to 197 previous beneficiaries, following up with their progress and providing legal support and representation.

29 child victims were referred to receive treatments from services providers in their communities such as mental treatment, vocational training, general education in state schools, safe provisional accomodation, medical care and welfare support. 45 child victims received bikes from the 88bikes foundation in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Some of the children were referred to Partner organisations for specialised care, such as Terre Des Homme Nederland, Agape International Mission, among others, while APLE Cambodia continued to provide free legal advice and representation throughout the entire criminal justice proceeding.

In addition:

10 sexual offenders of APLE cases were convicted.

  • 07 Cambodian offenders were charged with rape, sexual intercourse with minor under 15 years, and convicted from 3 years to 10 years of imprisonment, as well as ordered to pay compensation to the victims of approximately $15,000 to  four  girl victims.

 

  • 03 Foreign offenders (British, Israeli and American) were charged with Indecent Act against Minor under 15 Years by Art.43 of Law on Suppression Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. The conviction varied between 15 months and 3 years. They were ordered to pay compensation to the victims of approximately $750.00 to $3,750.00 to the victims, and two of them were ordered deportation from Cambodia after their sentence.
  • 06 victims received compensation of approximately $26,000 as mandated by a Swedish court.

 

Our Criminal Justice Development and Community Engagement teams also achieved fantastic things in 2019, such as the installment of child-friendly rooms within police headquarters, and over 2000 people trained with skills and tools to protect their communities from child sexual abuse and exploitation.

 

We couldn't have done this without you.

Again, THANK YOU.

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Organization Information

Action Pour Les Enfants - APLE Cambodia

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
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Project Leader:
APLE Cambodia
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia
$1,547 raised of $20,000 goal
 
26 donations
$18,453 to go
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