A world-renowned surfing photographer and a humanitarian fashion brand have banded together with World Vision to fight child sexual exploitation in Cambodia.
Kevin Murray, CEO of California-based clothier Jedidiah, has created a new spring 2011 line of t-shirts with the mission to fund a recovery center for children freed from the sex trade in the south Asian country.
The t-shirts were created in collaboration with surf photographer Aaron Chang, who held a show, “Cambodia: Ray of Hope,” on Saturday that featured photographs of his trip to Cambodia with the Jedidiah team, as well as the collaborative clothing collection.
Chang had joined Murray in a 2010 trip to Cambodia where they met with World Vision staff working with girls exploited by the commercial sex trade.
“Two million children are exploited every year in this sex trafficking industry,” stated Murray. “Cambodia, for whatever reason, has become the mecca of this problem.”
For every t-shirt in the collection sold, $10 will be donated to fund World Vision’s trauma recovery center, which serves more than 70 children per year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Also, 50 percent of all art sales on Saturday was donated to the recovery center.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is a global phenomenon. Victims of human trafficking have been reported in 137 countries, and the International Labor Organization estimates that at least 2.45 million persons are currently being exploited in this way. UNODC estimates that two-thirds of the victims are women, and 79 percent of victims are subjected to sexual exploitation.
Trafficking usually involves the use of violence, threats of violence or deception to create a compliant and exploitable work force, according to UNODC. In cases of sex trafficking, violence, deception and threats are used to force victims to perform sex acts for money.
In Cambodia, the women are normally exploited in indoor prostitution rings, such as at a massage parlor or sauna. In a video-taped testimony on the Jedidiah website, a Cambodian woman said she was tricked into working at a brothel.
Chang traveled to Cambodia with Murray in 2010 and snapped pictures of children being trafficked on bikes and the dark corridors where sex slaves worked.
After the trip, Murray contacted World Vision regarding the t-shirt line “because of the work that they do all around the world.”
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that serves nearly 100 million people in nearly 100 different countries. In Cambodia, World Vision is advocating for child protection policies and raising public awareness on the issue of child labor.
The international Christian non-profit has two projects for victims of sex-trafficking: the Trauma Recovery Project and Aftercare for Trafficked and Sexually Abused Children. The ATSAC program offers women and children from Cambodia’s sex industry safe refuge and aftercare. Meanwhile, the women receive vocational training and physical, emotional and spiritual healing through the TRP program.
"Millions of children have their innocence stolen through sexual exploitation," said Keith Kall, a World Vision spokesperson in a statement. "No child should ever have to experience that trauma.”
Kall expressed appreciation for Murray’s and Chang’s joint efforts: “Aaron Chang and Kevin Murray's passion to see that innocence restored is inspirational and is reflected in the art that they produce. World Vision is grateful for their investment in these children.”
The t-shirts are currently being sold on the Jedidiah website and are also available at Nordstrom.