As part of my job here is to understand the local context and the counter-trafficking programs and interventions, I have taken some time to visit organizations (coalitions, shelters, outreach programs, government offices, etc.). While visiting them, I have seen many good practices, some bad practices, and a couple very innovative strategies. For now, I have decided to share a couple of those practices which are of particular creativity or interest.
Innovative strategy #1:
Mith Samlanh (Friends) has a program called child-safe where they work with moto-drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, and cyclos (the bicycles that peddle people around) to combat sex tourism. To a lesser extent the program has been expanded to hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and bards. Therefore, anybody in the aforementioned population can sign up and be trained to 1) understand what sexual abuse is and how it negatively affects the child, 2) how to recognize when it is happening and identify sex tourists, and 3) what they can do to stop it. After they have completed the program and agreed to participate, they get a bumper sticker to put on their vehicle saying that they will not support sex tourism or sex tourists (it has a picture of a thumbs-up sign). Then, if they see something irregular or are approached, they can call a hotline to Mith Samlanh who then works with the policemen to enforce child protection. They are reimbursed for their call. Also, if they see a child who is hurt they can be reimbursed for transporting the child to an ER. The group also has regular follow-up with the drivers and with time they can advance and be given a shirt to wear that says the same thing as the bumper sticker. Personally, I try and choose people wearing the shirt or with the bumper sticker. I like this program because it puts so many more eyes out on the street and has managed to help some children. Also, it is awareness raising in a strata of society that is not reached by other media and educational campaigns.