Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cambodia - The Corruption





A monument to the King
Proverbs 28:15-16 (NLT) A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.  A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people, but one who hates corruption will have a long life.

Almost every missionary described the most difficult part of their job as dealing with corrupt government officials.  The culture of bribery is so prevalent that Cambodians don’t even sense it’s wrong.  It’s just the way things work.  The most vulnerable people suffer most because they can’t afford the bribes required to move forward with construction permits or access to the public classroom.

Social workers demand bribes before signing transfer papers required to move girls from short term to long term aftercare facilities.  These are the very officials whose job it is to serve the victims.

The King's riverfront viewing station - Photo Steph Chung
The Ministry of Education is required by law to provide education for all children. However, they suggest World Hope build a new office for the principal in exchange for a much needed teacher in rural Kampong Cham, denying the poorest children a proper education.

Police checkpoints stop vehicles at will, demanding paperwork that no one carries.  Pay the bribe or get a ticket.

As a result of a high profile trafficking case involving a government official, a new law prohibits hidden camera evidence in court, thereby tying the hands of investigators trying to break up trafficking rings.  In addition, prostitution and trafficking have moved from brothels to the back room of legitimate businesses like massage parlors, beer gardens (bars), and karaoke clubs.



Home to a family within sight of the King's viewing station

The NGOs are responding.  Love146, an anti-trafficking organization, has left Cambodia.  We were told UNICEF has also pulled out, although their website still shows activity in Cambodia.  The International Justice Mission has changed their focus from trafficking to rape, which is prevalent and often an on-ramp to trafficking.  (6 rapes were reported in one of the provinces in the first 2 weeks of 2015)

There is hope. 

In recent elections, young people protested publicly and the opposition party would have won had the election not been fixed.  These young voters are the first generation who didn’t experience the oppression of the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese occupation which both bred fear of dissent.


A riverfront home garden for a boat family within sight of the Palace
Just recently, the Chbap Srey rules of conduct for women were removed from the school curriculum.  These rules place women in complete submission to their husbands, no matter how the husbands treat them.  Even though the rules are outdated, change is slow.  One staff member told of her 34 year old daughter who has separated from her husband who demands she follow these rules of conduct.

As we celebrate MLK Day in the US, please pray for change in Cambodia.

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