Former Pastor Helping Over 700 Cambodia Sex Trafficking Victims, 13-Y-O Girls Sold by Mothers for Rape

(Photo: CNN video screencap)Sex trafficking victims in Cambodia speak out in a CNN interview broadcast on July 25, 2017.

A former pastor in Cambodia says that his organization has helped over 700 sex trafficking victims, including 13-year-old girls who have been sold by their own mothers and raped.

Agape International Missions has been on the frontlines of helping women and girls in the poverty-stricken country, said Don Brewster, a U.S. citizen and former pastor.

In a CNN report on Tuesday, a girl named Sephak said she was only 13 years old when she was sold for sex by her mother.

"She was taken to a hospital, issued a certificate confirming her virginity, and then taken to a hotel room where a she was raped for days. She was returned home after three nights," according to CNN.

The girl's mother, Ann, says that she sold her daughter for $800 because the family had debts to pay, and she saw no alternative.

The mother later pressured Sephak to work in a brothel, but says that she regrets her decisions now.

Sephak has since joined AIM as a worker, helping other survivors earn money making bracelets and clothing.

"Today, I feel much more stability than before. Not a lot of stability, but enough," says Sephak. "Now I have a decent job. I really want other people to have the kind of work that I have."

Sephak said that it's difficult to understand how a mother can sell her child.

"They don't have money, so they make their daughters work," she said.

"Even now, I see a lot of mothers who don't understand the feelings of their daughters. They don't understand that their daughters have hearts, that they suffer."

Brewster added that the focal point of sexual trafficking in Cambodia is taking place in Svay Pak, a fishing village on the outskirts of the capital of Phnom Penh.

Families there reportedly earn less than a dollar a day, which drives them to desperation.

"When we talk about child sex trafficking, this was at one point the epicenter," Brewster said.

"We would say when we came [to Svay Pak] it was 100 percent — if you were a girl born here, you were going to be trafficked. We would say today it's significantly below 50 percent."

On AIM's website, Brewster explains that he first went to Cambodia in 2005 with his wife and wasn't aware of the sex trafficking problem. But after watching a Dateline NBC special they were shocked to learn about the children's suffering.

"The very children I held hands with and saw running in the streets were not just trying to survive poverty. Many were living in hell, enduring torture," he said. "I couldn't believe it was right under my nose and I didn't even know it."

Christian humanitarian organizations are also active in the region helping sex industry victims, including World Help, which has been operating in Cambodia's neighbor, Thailand.

Noel Yeatts, World Help's vice president, told The Christian Post in an interview in May that modern-day slavery is about "bondage and loss of freedom."

"Every story ends with a young woman losing her power to choose: The parents who sell their daughter as a servant; the women who are branded like cattle to be purchased in red-light district dancing bars; the girl forced into a marriage not of her choosing; or the mother who enters into prostitution to provide for her son and ends up trapped in the sex industry," Yeatts told CP at the time.

"And every story also includes the common marks of abuse, vulnerability, neglect, and exploitation," she added.

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