This year, more than 3 million tourists will visit Cambodia, according to estimates. Most will come to enjoy Cambodia's tropical climate, stunning cultural heritage sites and beaches. A small percentage, however, come to gain easy access to children vulnerable to sexual exploitation. High poverty levels, weak social networks and limited law enforcement ability to investigate and successfully prosecute crimes against children by travelers have made Cambodia - along with many of its Greater Mekong Sub-region neighbors - a major destination for travelers seeking to have sex with children.
To date, Cambodia law enforcement has limited capacity to identify and arrest offenders and to effectively act upon crimes against children. This is compounded by female police officers being under-represented in law enforcement. They are also generally under-trained compared with their male colleagues. This makes them less likely to participate in investigations and less likely to be promoted when compared, again, with their male colleagues.
"We need to strengthen the role of female police officers. This is very important in cases of suspected child sexual exploitation, because it appears that women are more trusted by children during these investigations," says Ms. Kanha Chan, National Project Officer for Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) Cambodia.
The Cambodia Ministry of Interior recently identified gender inequality in law enforcement as a significant problem and drafted a gender-mainstreaming strategy for the Cambodia National Police. To support this, UNODC Cambodia and Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) helped organize training to enhance the role of female police officers.
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