Last week I met woman in the slums, we stood together in the dark and she told me her story…
A few years ago, she was recruited to work overseas, sewing t-shirt seams in a factory. Her hours were from 7am ‘til 11pm. WAIT. I stopped her, and asked “until 11PM??” I didn’t know factories stayed open so late. She repeated it. Yes, 7am until 11pm, but that wasn’t when her day ended. She lived with the factory manager and after getting home each night worked until 1am, cleaning, doing washing... then at 4am she was woken again to cook and clean. She was paid US$300 per month, a 21 hour day. No leave. After 3 years, exhaustion took over and she had to quit.
Real Story. Real Woman. Real Exploitation.
We were standing in the stink of the slum, with dirty kids at our feet. She looked at me and said, at 28, there’s no way she can afford kids. Look around you, she said.
I keep thinking about our conversation: if she had an education her story would be different. She would have had more choices. She would have autonomy. Her story would skip the Exploitation chapter.
We have been looking into the Stats around Exploitation and Education and according to Cambodia's Ministry of Planning, once a child is educated beyond grade 4/5 they are "safe from illiteracy" and this protects them from Traffickers.
Age Before Being Trafficked
Education Attainment before Victimisation
60% of the victims of human trafficking were illiterate, and there are very small numbers of victims with an education over grade 5.