In 2003, Action Pour Les Enfants [APLE] was established in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a child rights based NGO. Initially, APLE assisted the police with investigations into street-based child sexual abuse and exploitation and provided pro-bono legal support to victims and their families. As APLE gained more knowledge and expertise in combatting child sexual abuse, its operations expanded.
In 2005, APLE opened an office in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, due to an increase of suspected child sexual abuse in the area, often committed by travelling sex offenders. In the same year, APLE began offering social support to those affected by child sexual abuse and exploitation after detecting a lack of integral services in Cambodia. The social program was very well received and, to this day, is carried out in collaboration with partner NGOs, such as M’Lop Tapang in Sihanoukville.
In 2007, due to concerns about the increased flow of foreign nationals, poverty, minimal education, and vulnerable children, APLE opened a third office in Siem Reap. Each of APLE’s teams has become a critical and effective mechanism in the fight to end child sexual abuse and exploitation.
In 2009, the National Committee for Counter Trafficking elected APLE to be a co- vicechair the Law Enforcement Working Group. This working group is a joint initiative between government and civil society organizations tasked to monitor and report on changes in types of crimes, modus operandi of offenders, and factors that facilitate trafficking or sexual abuse and exploitation.
APLE is currently working under two MoUs with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation. These MoUs have enabled APLE to enhance multi stakeholder collaboration for law enforcement related activities and victim support services.
Adapting to the changing environment
As child sexual abuse and exploitation trends have shifted both worldwide and in Cambodia, APLE adapts to the ever-changing environment as a response to the increased risks for children.
APLE’s 2016 – 2020 strategy was driven to concentrate on 4 interconnected programs that tackled child sexual abuse and exploitation in a holistic way, including criminal justice development; court support; community engagement; and research and advocacy.