Cambodia: Sex workers, 100% condom use and human rights

logo for sex workers\' video channelCambodian sex workers have taken to the internet to make their plight and fight for human rights better known. In Cambodia, a 100% condom use law which states that sexual exchanges with clients have to take place with condoms on sounds like a good idea, but it has been turned against those it is supposed to protect, by being used as a means to imprison sex workers, using the fact that they carry condoms with them as evidence for them doing sex work.

Sex workers arrested are sent to “rehabilitation” centers that are basically prisons, where women are held in communal cells with no bathrooms or running water, hardly receive food or water, some are beaten and raped, and are denied Anti-retroviral drug treatment for HIV positive women.

The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers has a series of studies of the perceived results and effects of the 100% Condom Use Program according to sex workers in different countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. You can also see the video the have uploaded on their channel Sex Workers Present, where a comprehensive video with explanations of the implications of the 100% condom use program, interviews with women who have been arrested or sent to “rehabilitation” facilities where no type of education or training is received, and how these programs that connect condom use exclusively with sex workers are not going to be able to impact HIV and STI propagation among the rest of the population. The Asia pacific Network of Sex Workers recently won the 2008 international Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights at the International AIDS conference in Mexico City the first week of August. The organization was founded in 1994 and has been working with sex workers on health and human rights along with other organizations and groups such as Empower Thailand, Sweetly Japan, Pink Triangle Malaysia, the Scarlet Alliance Australia and Sonagachi.

The following video is named Caught between the Tiger and the Crocodile:


  • Shiela Jeffries

    Congratulations to Cambodian sex workers for standing up against lies and oppression. The trafficking discourse is moralistic right wing twaddle promoted straight from the Bush administration.

  • We have to fight for one Cambodia without HIV/AIDS

    • Thea

      Thank you for your post. I think we must use condom if we feel of sexual and one more thing if we want to fight against with this serious point. Please guide other people especially in the town and also along the country side to know clearly how to prevent them self from HIV.

      If you have any idea more, can you please share to me. I live in the province and if I know something more I will counsel other people to escape from this HIV.


  • APROASE Cynthia

    To share knowledge in Defense of Human Rights of the Sexual Workers with APNSW and NSWP in AIDS 2008 has been a great opportunity and growth for the organization of the Mexican sexual workers.
    Congratulations for all Camboyan Sex Worker for your great work about ours Human Rights.

  • Big Shot Pictures has completed a pro-bono video production project for Transitions Global about building new lives for the young survivors of Cambodia’s prolific sex trafficking industry. The nine-minute mini-documentary was produced to generate awareness and raise funds to help the children Transitions Global has rescued from the nightmare of sexual enslavement. Transitions Global’s goal is to create sustainable futures for these 14-15 year old girls who have been taken from their families, threatened and beaten.

    Comprised of interviews with James Pond, the organization’s executive director and founder, Jaya Sry, Cambodian director and trauma specialist Dr. Wendy Freed, plus footage from NBC’s Dateline, the project was the brainchild of Big Shot Picture’s Erin McNamara who coordinated all phases of production development and supervised pre-production, production and post-production.

    “We appreciate Big Shot Picture’s commitment to the global community and the dedication Ms. McNamara has given to this project,” said Mr. Pond. “Our hope is to leverage this powerful piece to raise much needed funds and generate awareness for the young who are suffering.”

    Formerly known as Transitions Cambodia, the Pond family changed the name of the organization to Transitions Global, to reflect the many hot spots around the globe where child sex trafficking is prolific. Acknowledged for their 70% rehabilitation rate, Transitions Global has an ongoing need for donations to help expand their resources and help teens develop much needed life skills.

    For more information about donating to Transitions Global, visit

    Big Shot Pictures is a multi-disciplined film and video production company offering traditional advertising, film and television content, DRTV, and corporate film and video. For more information, visit

  • The hypocrisy of the Cambodian government is astounding. This is country with 40% of the population living below the poverty line-it only makes sense that many women turn to sex work to make ends meet. That is, the women who aren’t forced into the sex trade. With such an abysmal rate of human trafficking, the last place they need to focus the blame on is their sex workers.

  • I find it particularly disturbing that people from developed countries are traveling to an impoverished country like Cambodia to prey on children. Cambodians generally look up to foreigners, particularly Westerners, as role models for fairness, benevolence, freedom and justice. The acts of the sex tourists are threatening to undermine the good deeds of those foreigners who are in Cambodia to do good.

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