Rapid Asia study on human traficking in Cambodia

In the second half of 2012, Rapid Asia carried out a ground breaking study on human trafficking in Cambodia, funded by USAID. A quantitative survey was conducted with three target groups including vulnerable populations, returned migrants and survivors of trafficking. A key element was to understand how a person ends up being trafficked and those elements were defined as ‘vulnerability factors’ (i.e. Poverty, food security, education etc.) and ‘risk triggers’ (i.e. Actions taken during the process of migration). During the analysis another factor emerged, which we chose to call ‘vulnerability triggers’. Vulnerability triggers are sudden and unpredictable events such as sickness in the family, debt spinning out of control, loss of land, sudden unemployment etc. Looking at the vulnerability factors it was discovered that all three groups, including the returned migrants, are vulnerable to trafficking. But vulnerability was not just explained by their general poor financial state, but also due to lack of knowledge about the risks of human trafficking. It was clear that survivors had taken more risk compared to the returned migrants and it could be concluded that risk triggers play an important role in deciding whether or not someone ends up being trafficked. Survivors were also found to have experienced ‘vulnerability triggers’ to a greater extent. As a result of this, the person is pushed to a point at which they have to take drastic action and may be prepared to take more risk. Still, it is the lack of knowledge about human trafficking in the first place that often results in taking unnecessary risks or taking risks unknowingly. It seems the old saying: ‘what you don’t know cannot hurt you’ does not apply to human trafficking at least.  All in all, prevention type programs are critical and can potentially make a big difference. Reach of such programs in Cambodia amongst the groups mentioned was found to be around one third. No wonder human trafficking still thrives.