Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened to shut down a Christian anti-trafficking NGO for providing information to CNN about girls sold into prostitution by their mothers which was aired by the international broadcaster, according to The Phnom Penh Post Online on Wednesday (Aug 2).
The story, headlined “The Cambodian girls sold for sex by their mothers,” sparked ire in the social media because one of the girls spoke Vietnamese. The word “Cambodian” was later dropped from the headline.
“This is a serious insult,” said an irate Hun Sen at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday. He said he had ordered the Interior and Foreign ministries to investigate the matter.
“In many countries, for only drawing cartoons their magazine must be shut down, but in our country, we are insulted, saying that mothers sold children to become prostitutes. We cannot accept this big insult, and we are going to close the NGO involved,” said Hun Sen.
On Monday, a CNN spokesman said the report highlighted Cambodia’s progress in eradicating sex trade, adding that they stood by their reporting.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs said the NGO–Agape International Missions (AIM)–had made a major mistake and manipulated the truth for their own financial gain.
AIM founder Don Brewstersaid he was unable to comment yesterday, but two staff members said they would regret if AIM were to be shut down.
AIM claims to have rescued 600 people last year, including 100 children and has received many government letters thanking the organization.
World Vision’s Aimyleen Gabriel said sex trafficking in Cambodia was evolving and remains a major issue needing more attention from all sectors of the society.