Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - In spite of the considerable progress made in the economic sector, millions of children in Cambodia are still deprived of basic rights such as health, education and housing, and all kinds of protection. According to official data collected by Fides Agency, about 40% of the child population lives in poverty. However, the figures could be even higher since many children are not registered at birth, and remain "invisible". Most of them live in rural areas, but poverty is also increasing in the city.
Families break up and the children are abandoned on the streets where they are exposed to extreme risks .
For a long time Cambodia was considered a place to visit because of the so-called "sex tourism" and the sexual abuse of children was widespread, along with child prostitution. According to local sources, things now seem to have changed with the creation of structures that counteract trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors, even if the phenomenon has unfortunately not been completely eradicated, and partly continues in a more discreet manner.
Decisive interventions on behalf of various NGOs have been of vital importance, such as Protect, which has provided detectives to prosecute pedophiles and whose complaints have been able to send many in prison. Until 2003, in fact pedophiles enjoyed total impunity. Another NGO for the protection of vulnerable children is Friends, whose work has expanded to other countries in Southeast Asia such as Laos and Thailand. Over the course of 20 years, the NGO has been able to give shelter to thousands of street children in Phnom Penh. In addition to the reintegration of child victims of prostitution, it currently focuses its activity on small children who have been abandoned. Every day Friends operators care for about 1,800 children and adolescents in four centers, places where they can wash themselves and rest. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 31/03/2014)