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Poverty – a driving force

Poverty – a driving force

Life in the rural provinces of Cambodia can be brutally hard. It’s even harder when a family can find no sustainable means for earning a subsistence living. Poverty is almost always the push factor that sends a girl away from family in search of a way to help support them. This is how many girls in Cambodia find themselves in sexually exploitative situations.

A large family. Extreme poverty. A cultural norm that heaves responsibility for support of the family upon children. This is the life Chan was born into, child number seven of nine.  At best, life in the rural provinces of Cambodia can be hard, even brutal. It’s even harder when a family can find no sustainable means for earning a subsistence living.

Though Chan’s family tried to keep their nine children in school, by the time Chan reached the sixth grade she was forced by their poverty to find a job making baskets to contribute to her family’s income. Still, it was not enough, and by the age of 15 she left her provincial home, city-bound with only a sixth-grade education, in search of a “better” job. For two years she worked in a factory making shoes and sending the majority of her meager earnings home to her family.

Life in Cambodia can be hard. Chan’s mother died of a blood disease when Chan was 16, and now her father was left to care for the family brood. He borrowed money just so his family could survive, but it was not enough and he couldn’t continue borrowing. It was time for Chan to take the next step.

Commercial sex establishments are a breeding ground for child sexual exploitation

The streets of Phnom Penh are rife with commercial sex establishments, places where young women, boys and girls are sold by the hour to entertain patrons, both foreign sex tourists and local Cambodian nationals. It wasn’t difficult for Chan to find a job. Her petite frame and shy smile were exactly what the pimps and mama-sans look for in these places.


After a period of time working in a KTV bar, Chan didn’t take long to consider Destiny Rescue’s offer of sanctuary. With little more than the clothes on her back and some makeup, she moved into the aftercare facility where she began to thrive. Under the loving care of her house sisters and the friendship of fellow rescued girls, she now has hope for a brighter future, something she could not envision in her former life.

Today, Chan has many hopes and dreams, including finishing school, opening her own beauty salon, and even traveling. She is an active girl who likes to play many sports like basketball, tennis, and volleyball. In her free time she enjoys listening to country and romance music, and would love to learn to play guitar. Chan is a diligent learner and enjoys studying Khmer and mathematics as well as practicing her English. Her desire is to assist in supporting her siblings’ education to help provide a better future for each of them.

Disclaimer: This is the true story of a rescued child. To protect her identity, images have been changed.

Visit Destiny Rescue for more information on how to support their work.

About The Author

Destiny Rescue

Destiny Rescue is an internationally-recognised Christian non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children trapped in the sex trade. Our vision is to rescue the sexually exploited and enslaved, restore the abused, protect the vulnerable, empower the poor and be a voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves.

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