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Cambodia: Girls From Cambodia

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In January of 2005 our team travelled to Cambodia to meet Chanthol Oung, the head of Cambodian Women's Crisis Center, a grassroots organization dedicated to preventing violence against women, and particularly to stop the illegal sale of young women into the sex industry.

We talked to a number of young women who told us their stories of having been sold into brothels and had managed to escape. They also told us about what they are doing with their lives now. These remarkable stories have been chronicled into "Girls From Cambodia", along with the stories of shelter workers, policemen and Chanthol Oung herself, forging the struggle against an entrenched system of human trafficking.

Girls From Cambodia: An honest look into the sex industry in Cambodia

Girls From Cambodia includes emotional firsthand accounts of brave young Cambodian women, speaking frankly about being sold into sexual slavery and escaping their captors. and their hopes for a different future.

This poignant portrayal features Chanthol Oung, the founder of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center who has forged the struggle against a deeply entrenched system of human trafficking.

Chanthol Oung was the Southeast Asia recipient of an International Woman of Courage Award by the U.S. State Department this year. The "International Women of Courage" award is the State Department's only continuing awards program exclusively for emerging women leaders.

Young Cambodian girls in rice field photo

Chanthol Oung
Chanthol Oung, the founder of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center, was the Southeast Asia recipient of an International Woman of Courage Award by the U.S. State Department this year.

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The summer of 2006 saw Outer Voices return to Cambodia in an attempt to offer support to the embattled Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, with the help of the Urgent Action Fund. For several years, convicted pedophile, New Zealander Graham Cleghorn tried to appeal his court case in Phnom Penh. With media reports being driven by his friends and family about his innocence and the fraudulent stories about the CWCC, there was great danger of his release should his appeal be successful. Our goal was to get the facts straight and publish them widely, to support CWCC in the face of ongoing attacks by the pedophile community.

Background information:

Women Linked Arms Around Cambodia's Mu Sochua
As the world knows by now, the Cambodian member of parliament and internationally-renowned leader in women's rights was given a guilty verdict for defamation against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, leader of the majority Cambodian People's Party. Human rights groups have denounced the verdict as politically biased and Sochua's supporters showed up to signal their support. Read full article

Cambodia: 30 Years After Fall of the Khmer Rouge, Justice Still Elusive
Thirty years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia's culture of impunity remains as strong as ever, Human Rights Watch said today. Under Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Cambodian government continues to obstruct the United Nations-supported court created to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders and others most responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million people during the Khmer Rouge-era. Read full article

Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime
The Khmer Rouge was the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, but during this short time it was responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th Century. Read full article


"Disturbing, Engaging, Sound Rich... This is an outstanding documentary. I recommend finding a slot to broadcast it. It is sound rich and compelling. There is a good narrative throughout the hour. The producers did a great job of letting the girls tell the story.

 The writing and ambient tape gives a good sense of place. It provides continuity and sets scenes, but lets the tape tell the story.

 The stories are disturbing, but important to hear. This is great public radio."
 Arvid Hokanson, KUOW - March 9, 2006

Young Cambodian girls in rice field photo"This is disturbing. little girl voices talking about being sold into brothels with the same tone as if describing chores. It grows bone chilling with each account...the indigestible blurring of prostitution and pedofilia . There is history told, revealing the now seemingly bottomless shelters, ever full of young women and girls seeking respite from a dispicable life. The shelter and crisis organizations have had to become a driving force within the social structure and conscience of an entire country; it's almost like a political movement or conservationist in any other country.

More testimony, perhaps quiet celebration too, of the burning strength and inimitable stamina often required for female survival and their redemption. Produced thoughtfully with unobtrusive narrator and music - generally this is a radio experience that leaves your mouth agape."
 Viki Merrick, WCAI / WNAN - March 1, 2006

Related Programs Featuring Outer Voices Content

arrow Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth

arrow National Film Board of Canada/Citizenshift


Major underwriting for Girls From Cambodia from The Ford Foundation. Thanks to the Pohaku Fund for generous support for production costs in Cambodia. Thanks also to Thai Airways for support and underwriting.

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» Cambodia: Girls from Cambodia

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» Burma: Kawthoolei

» Vietnam & Laos: The Price of Rice

» Project Incubator: New Stories


"Generally this is a radio experience that leaves your mouth agape."
- Viki Merrick, WCAI / WNAN» Read entire review

"This is an outstanding documentary. The stories are disturbing, but important to hear. This is great public radio."
- Viki Merrick, WCAI / WNAN» Read entire review

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