In an era where the internet and social media are increasingly taking hold of our lives, they have also become a mean to commit crimes, including sexual exploitation of children.

Cambodia and internet

It was recently discovered by the news agency Agence France-Press that Southeast Asia is witnessing a new wave of paedophile activities, happening mostly on the internet and paid for with cryptocurrency. Tougher policing and greater awareness had managed to deter some offenders but the growing availability of internet allowed for the shifting of patterns of abuse.

Comparing to other ASEAN countries, Cambodian’s use of internet and social media is not as prominent but is growing at a steady rate and in 2019 it has reached 76% for internet and 51% for social media. Internet has its positive aspects ad is increasingly used by children and youth as a source of information. However, it is important to consider its challenges, including that of being a mean to distribute child pornography, harass children and lure them into child trafficking.

“Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism in Cambodia” workshop

As reported by The Asean Post, during the workshop the Cambodia’s National Committee for Counter-Trafficking (NCCT) – represented by its chairwoman Chou Bun Eng – identified the nation’s capital and the three provinces of Kampot, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk as being the areas where children’s sexual exploitation happen more often. In response to these findings, the Ministry of Interiors declared that it has set up and anti-cybercrimes department. “If we cannot stop these activities, we will face many challenges in the future,” said Samleang Seila – executive director for Action Pour Les Enfants, partner of the NCCT in the fight against trafficking.

Chou Bun Eng also spoke up against the role of social media in children’s exploitation, urging service providers to monitor internet content to protect children and parents and guardians to monitor their children’s internet activity.