Survivor of Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse Material Got Justice

Bopha is now 30 years old, living with her husband and three year old son in Phnom Penh. For a living, she runs a small salon and her husband works at a construction site. Bopha told a story about herself when she was 12.

Bopha’s parents are immigrants from Vietnam. She has five siblings, four sisters and one brother and she is the oldest daughter in her family. Her parents got divorced when she was 11 year old and then her family moved to live in Phnom Penh. Because of her family’s financial situation, she could not afford schooling and dropped out of school.

At the age of 12 years, she was lured to a promising job, trafficked and sold to work in prostitution where she was forced to have sex with buyers. Most of her clients were foreigners. Sometimes, her clients took videos of the sexual conduct. She was staying in the brothel for nearly one year and because of the terrible conditions, she decided to run away from the brothel. She went to live with her mother.

When Bopha was 18 yrs old, she decided to work in prostitution to save her mother’s situations. She told her mother that she was working at a coffee shop.  Two years later, the brothel where she worked was raided by the police. Bopha was one among many other girls found and rescued. She was referred to a rehab shelter and had the opportunity to study Salon classes. For about one year receiving treatment in the rehab center, she got better and was reintegrated back to her family.

In 2019, a case involving her 2002-2005 exploitation was investigated by the Australian Federal Police in which an Australian man was charged with sexual assault of minors in Cambodia and Vietnam and other offences involving child sexual abuse material. Bopha was one of many girls identified in the exploitative images.

At the moment she was told about her images, she cried and felt shocked about what happened to her. She was worried that her family would blame and disliked her. She was frightened of any chance her uncle, aunty and other relatives could see her videos. Bopha was re-traumatized with what happened and kept worrying of her photos/videos on the web.

Bopha’s legal case went through prosecution in Australia, while she was being supported psychologically and legally by APLE team. In 2021, the news about Bopha’s court case came in. Her offender was found guilty and sentenced to 8.9 years in jail.  Bopha was relieved to hear about the court’s judgment. APLE worked with a group of pro bono lawyers to provide legal representation to Bopha and assisted her to access civil compensation. In the same year, the Australian man was ordered to pay compensation sum to Bopha for her abuse. The case was concluded for Bopha and her abuser was serving time in jail.

Bopha is currently receiving continued psychological support for her recovery from APLE and its partner organization. She’s gradually coping better with her family life and continuing her salon business.  

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