KI Media, a great blog whose subtitle is "Dedicated to publishing sensitive information about Cambodia," has posted a guest commentary by Laurence Gray, a World Vision Regional Advocacy Director, in which he points out that the Mekong region of southeast Asia "has a reputation as a hotspot for the trafficking of young people, most notoriously into the underage sex scene." The article refers to a report commissioned by World Vision and the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater-Mekong Sub-region (UNIAP) and called "Sex, Sun and Heritage: Tourism threats and opportunities in South East Asia." The report makes recommendations for prevention and awareness-raising campaigns, as well as recommendations for protection of children and prosecution of criminals. One recommendation was for stiff economic fines applied, for example, to bars which hire under-age girls.
Tourist dollars being spent in Cambodia and other south east Asian countries is increasing. One way that we can fight this problem is to contribute toward meaningful employment of adults in these areas. Another is to support the organizations that rehabilitate children who have suffered in human trafficking. My suggestion is that whenever you plan on vacationing in south east Asia, do some web research beforehand on organizations which you can visit and donate some of your vacation funds to their causes. It's the least we can do if we're enjoying the history, culture and natural beauty of these countries.
Of course you don't have to travel to make a donation. Two organizations I've become familiar with recently, and which I plan on supporting, are Transitions Cambodia (see my last posting), and Digital Divide Data, of which I've also recently written.