Who does APLE help?
APLE primarily helps those affected by child sexual abuse and exploitation. This includes victims, witnesses, vulnerable children, and family members. In addition to this, APLE provides awareness to communities to prevent abuse and trains stakeholders to recognise and report suspicious behaviour. Some recipients of training include police, tuk-tuk drivers, NGO personnel, and youth.
Are all the victims girls?
No. Boys can be and are abused. In cases APLE has worked on, 52% of victims are male. Boys tend to be victims of street-based abuse and preferential offenders, while girls are more likely to be victims of establishment-based abuse and situational offenders.
How does APLE help?
APLE has four departments that work together to provide clients with the services they need.
- Facilitators organize events to educate and train the population with the goal of creating a more informed community that can prevent and report abuse.
- Investigators assist the police in monitoring and responding to reports of suspicious behaviour and liaise with foreign and national law enforcement to bring offenders to justice.
- Social workers help with a wide range of needs: medical care; shelter; welfare support; and trauma counselling for those affected by child sexual abuse and exploitation.
- Lawyers provide pro bono legal counselling and representation to victims, vulnerable children, witnesses, and family members.
Where does APLE operate?
APLE operates across Cambodia, with offices in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap. In addition to this, we have informants nationwide who are trained to spot and report abuse.
What types of child sexual abuse and exploitation does APLE respond to?
APLE responds to all reports of child sexual abuse or exploitation. Depending on the information given, we will handle the report or refer it to a partner NGO that is better suited to respond. APLE is specialised in investigating street-based exploitation, which is often committed by traveling sex offenders. Recently, we have seen a worrying increase in institution-based abuse, which occurs when an individual uses an institution (e.g. school, NGO, orphanage) to gain access to, groom, and/or sexually exploit children, and APLE is responding to this crime as well.
Why is street-based exploitation so difficult to investigate?
Street-based exploitation occurs through a process called grooming. Offenders meet potential victims in the street, maybe when the child is begging or selling bracelets.
A grooming process begins whereby the offender builds a relationship of trust with the child(ren), their family, and possibly even their community; the ultimate goal of the offender is to identify, isolate, and abuse a vulnerable child, and also to ensure the child’s silence.
It is rare that a child who has been groomed will disclose abuse; the child may feel guilty, ashamed, fearful or dependent on the offender. In addition, there is often little evidence of abuse outside of victim testimony so APLE assists the police to employ advanced methods to investigate child sex offenders.
How does APLE assist the police?
APLE has a strong collaborative partnership with the police. APLE provides trainings to law enforcement officials and refers cases to both national and foreign police for action. APLE is not a law enforcement agency; however, given the complexity of sexual crimes and the evolving modus operandi of offenders, APLE’s expertise and assistance is crucial to catching child sex offenders. We work alongside police, supporting them in their work and training them to increase their abilities to effectively and efficiently combat child sexual abuse and exploitation in Cambodia.
Can you describe a typical perpetrator?
There is no such thing. A child sex offender can be anyone: young, old; male, female; foreigner, local. Sometimes the most unlikely person is a child sex offender.
However, child sex offenders can be broadly divided into two categories, based on certain characteristics: preferential and situational.
- Preferential offenders find arousal and gratification through fantasising about and engaging in sexual activity that is atypical and extreme – most often, this means sexual activity with children.
- Situational offenders commit sexual offences against children despite the fact that their arousal and gratification does not depend on fantasising about and engaging in atypical and extreme sexual activity.
In general, preferential offenders commit street- and institution-based abuse while situational commit establishment-based; as a result, most of APLE’s investigations are into preferential child sex offenders.
What is APLE’s hotline for?
The goal of the hotline is to provide people an anonymous and confidential way to report child sexual abuse from anywhere, allowing our staff to act immediately. People who report abuse are not required to provide any information to APLE or participate in the legal proceeding if they choose not to. We simply thank you for helping us protect children in Cambodia!