Project: Protecting girls from sex trafficking and exploitation
AusCam Freedom Project has received a 100 Women grant to support the cost of crisis response and intervention for girl victims and for the integration of current education and mentoring programs into a web-based platform.
AusCam Freedom Project (AusCam) will supplement their current child protection and girl’s empowerment programs through the development of a web-based platform that will allow girls to self-identify their risk, receive immediate support and referrals and be invited to participate in education and mentoring initiatives. Data collected through virtual engagement will further inform systemic approaches to preventing the trafficking and exploitation of women and girls.
Who is AusCam Freedom Project?
Founded by a Child Protection Specialist Investigator with 40 years’ of international experience, AusCam has been working in the protection and anti-trafficking field in Cambodia for more than 10 years. AusCam’s vision is for girls, everywhere, to be free from trafficking and exploitation. It’s mission is to end trafficking before it begins by identifying girls at risk, ensuring that they stay in school, building their confidence and creating a protective environment. This is achieved through four integrated programs: social work, education, protection and empowerment.
What project will a 100 Women grant support?
This project seeks to actively prevent the sexual exploitation of girls and young women in Cambodia, both by protecting those at immediate risk and by addressing the systemic causes of gender-based violence in the country by:
- Identifying adolescent girls and young women at high risk of online sexual exploitation or re-exploitation using digital outreach and a risk assessment tool, then providing crisis intervention, including access to psychological counselling, medical treatment and legal services.
- Broadening the accessibility and reach of current education and peer mentoring programs via an online resource centre where girls can discover new techniques to improve their confidence, self-awareness, decision making and advocacy skills to build their resilience. The Shine Centre will also offer vital safety information and a live messaging feature to contact the team for help.
Who is the project for?
The project aims to provide 1,000 girls aged between 13 -21 years with access to critical assistance to prevent their exploitation and to engage 5,000 girls in the virtual resource centre.
Why is the project needed?
In Cambodia, adolescent girls and young women face severe gender disparities and barriers that limit their ability to stay in school, make their own decisions and protect themselves, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking, exploitation and abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk to girls including online abuse. To better understand what children, particularly adolescent girls, were experiencing online and the risks to victims, AusCam launched a rapid needs assessment based on their online activities and then conducted interviews with stakeholder organisations, including the Cambodian police. This assessment led to the creation of “Freedom Line,” Cambodia’s only crisis hotline, that specifically allows adolescent girls to report their situation and receive urgent support to prevent exploitation. Compiling AusCam’s information and resilience building activities into a web platform, will service a broader community.
The web platform will enable the identification of girls at risk anywhere in Cambodia. Girls can then be provided with crisis support (via virtual case management including counselling, referrals to legal support and medical care delivered by a referral partner network) and redirection to a community of female peers (with content to be designed by girls). Critical safety information and empowerment opportunities will be made available to any girl with internet access.
Why is this project the best option?
AusCam’s project is a gender-responsive and scalable approach that will help increase protection and opportunities for girls in Cambodia and that will allow AusCam to collect data on the prevalence of online child sexual exploitation.
A major barrier to sustainably addressing online sexual exploitation is a lack of information regarding its prevalence, due to a lack of reporting. Cambodia’s gender norms and taboos result in high levels of underreporting by girl victims, creating a lack of documented evidence of crimes or response techniques. This lack of information hinders the progress of protective behaviours and systems. Increased reporting and an ongoing focus on the factors that build gender equality is needed.
Why is AusCam Freedom Project best placed to achieve success?
AusCam has a long and successful track record of working in Cambodia in partnership with key stakeholders. Recent needs assessment has informed this project to not only increase the outreach of AusCam’s work via the expansion of digital channels but to understand better solutions to addressing systemic challenges. Greater accessibility and relevance of the existing hotline is planned to allow direct and safe reporting by girls themselves. The is designed to increase victim reporting and generate insights into the online environment and sexual exploitation that Cambodia girls are experiencing. New data and knowledge will be shared with other key stakeholders, including Cambodia’s National Counter Trafficking Committee, to understand better preventative strategies.
What are the planned outcomes?
- 5,000 girls have access to a safe online resource centre for support
- 100 girls receive crisis support (monthly outreach results)
- 1,000 girls have improved health and ability to determine safe relationships
- 1,000 girls have improved confidence, decision-making, problem-solving and advocacy skills
Are there any notable partners?
AusCam partners with Global GLOW, a non-profit organisation that creates and operates innovative programs to mentor girls to advocate for themselves and make their communities stronger. Global GLOW provides the curriculum for AusCam’s personal development training and reproductive health activities. AusCam implements and manages the activities.