Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. It is home to an estimated 2.2 million people. As an economic centre, it is one of the richest cities in the country. However, the wealth is unequally distributed and urban poverty, malnutrition and unemployment are actually increasing.
Life in the rural areas of Cambodia continues to be harsh and therefore many people move to cities in search of a better life. However, it is not easy for these families to survive in the city. As the economy has grown, the cost of living in general, and food and housing in particular, has also increased.
Since 2001, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Phnom Penh.
Women and children are the worst affected by precarious social and economic conditions in Cambodia. Women head 22% of households in Cambodia.
Women often find it hard to find secure employment, because they have been forced to drop out of school at a young age. Female-headed households are at higher risk of impoverishment. These social and economic conditions have a huge impact on family life, and many children are left without parental care. Phnom Penh has the largest share of children living on the streets: they are at risk of becoming addicted to substances and exposed to violence and exploitation.
Online child sexual exploitation is a global problem and poses a serious threat to children in Cambodia. More than 150 cases of online exploitation and abuse relating to children are reported every year. In these cases, for example, children are forced to create or share explicit images.
Even offline, children are at increasing risk of sexual violence in Cambodia, and more boys are falling victim to abuse than in the past. Children who do not have stable family support are most at risk. In order to prevent and respond to online sexual abuse, more work has to be done to ensure the collaboration of communities, organizations, institutions and the government.