Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Final Paper

Human Rights and World Politics( M-W 9.30-11.30)
Topic: Right to protection and promotion of street children in Phnom Penh
Prof. Stan Starygin
Student name: Keo Cheysothearith
I am really interested in this topic for I think it is a hot topic which is being concerned by the government of a state. To this topic, I will show how children are being treated badly currently in their society, and they don't have the right to their freedoms of their own expressions. Moreover, by having this topic analyzed, I will be able to find out the problems that are happening on those street children, and I also can figure out the causes and effects that exploit the street children right to meet their welfare. I hope this paper can make a change to those children so as to become better in their living standard. It is one of the issues that can help to promote the state from lease developed.
I am sure that this paper needs to be given common by you readers in order for it to be made better. It would be helpful if you all can give more points that I am lacking. I am looking forward to correcting my mistakes that I am having in this paper. Thank you all in advance.


Cambodia is a leased-developed country which consists of over 13 million of population. Around 85 percents of people are farmers. 15.7 percents of the population are urban (estimated in Oct-Dec 2002). So this can show that a large number of the total population is still living in rural areas where development is still very low. Those farmers are facing the state of being under the poverty line, and they are being threatened by increasing factors such as poverty, domestic violence, robbery in some regions, landmines, poor crop yield, and family breakdown. Now it comes to another factor that is known as HIV/ AIDS in families.
Street children and their families are in very bad conditions and some of them are being exploited by a group of people who are trying to take advantages from them. A number of street children is keeping increased during period of rapid change in Cambodia. In Phnom Penh, in some particular places street children are trying to seek their new living in the city. Some of them lost tie with their families' relationship as a result of the massive killing which was known as Khmer Rouge regime.
Street children are divided into three groups: street-living children who have no relatives. They are living in orphanhood and they have made streets their home. According to Mith Samlanh, there are 1200 street children who are homeless in Phnom Penh (Friends survey, June 2001). The second type of them are called street-working children who work on streets to earn their living but they return home in between 10000 to 20000 with a little money for their parents. The last type of the group is called street families with more than a thousand. They live with their family on the streets. They need to work out for low wages like collecting junks and some other useful things for recycling.
The population of homeless children has been continuing to increase in the capital city where most facilities are available. This flow of people make the city more crowded and it becomes the chaos place. Some street boys become rubbers and they are low paid workers; some street girls becomes prostitutes and they have been trafficked to other countries for serving sexual intercourse.
Living Conditions of Street Children
It is miserable to think about those children living in the streets. They have taken those streets their home. This is the worst situation they are facing, and they need to struggle for their lives. In their mealtime, they find themselves hard to have food to eat. They need to earn money by polishing shoes. As a shoes polish boy in the city of Phnom Penh, he works more than 8 hours a day, much more than ordinary people. Unfortunately he earns much less than them. For a pair of shoes he can get only 500 Reil. Sometimes they can not buy such food to eat. They buy glues, which they think glues can help them not to feel hungry and make them feel good.
[1] It was told by the boys in the Dark Street in Phnom Penh that they could buy a large quantity of glue for only 5,000 Riels ($1.20 USD), which they could earn in a day of begging and shinning shoes. But if they didn't have the 5,000 Riels, there was a nice Khmer lady who purchased bottles of glue, and resold it in smaller containers for as little as 500 Riels.

Some other children are forced to beg along the streets, and some become pickpockets in a crowded places. They do so because they have to earn some money for the big brothers that try to threaten them if they can not earn such money, the big brothers will punish them like beating and not sharing glue for them. What can we say about human right in this situation? In deed there no equal right among them. The one is stronger is the leader of a group, and the leader of the group can dominate his members just whatever he wants to.
Another group of street children is called Street Family. This kind of group is luckier than the other two groups. Living with family is not only safer but also warmer when parents are being near by. Even so their lives are still in misery. Since they have more members in the family, they need to earn some money to feed more mouths too. Through my observation, most street families are collecting junks on the streets. Some junks can be recycled, and they are useful for them to sell them back to junk collectors. To do so, they have to expose themselves to garages, which are very dirty, and they can cause bad effect to their health. A lot of diseases are spreading and threatening their lives because those street children lack sanity. This leads to high mortality rates that happen to be the most concern.

Sexual Abuse

Street children are not only facing the problem described above but also some adults exploit them.
[2]Children are the prey of adults in search of their immediate sexual gratification. Girls are especially at risk of rape. A substantial number of children turn to prostitution as a means to make an income. Additionally, some children are kidnapped and sold to the international sex trade.
There still many girls who are being trafficked to other countries like Thailand and Vietnam. They are cheated and sold as an animal everyday. It happens in every country even in developed countries. That is why it comes to the law and ratified by the government to protect children from being abused. Because of the risk of abuse and because of early sexual activity, children are at high risk of HIV infection. In Cambodia, 15% of street children and youth are HIV positive compared to the national average of 2.6%.
Even though children are concerned, still the right of them is considered weak to get them out of exploitation. NGO and others organization are doing hard work to promote the right of children who are weak and orphans to be treated well in their society.

Street Children and Causes

Children are weaker age compared to mature and adult people. They have a lower thinking that makes them the target of some cheaters. It has been mentioned that there are lots factors that cause street children. One of the factors is poverty. When mentions about poverty, we would think about basic need for living like food, clothes, medicines, and others need. Since Cambodia used to be under Khmer Rouge for 3 year 8 months and 20 days, the whole country had turned to disaster. Million and million of people died because of overwork and hunger. Thus it continues until today that most people in the rural are still facing absolute poverty. They have no choice but to come to the city to seek income. In the contrary, most of them end up homeless and beggars.
Another factor is that some people who live in a far remote area are living on the landmines, which make them hard to do agriculture. Some parents even force their children to earn income in the city when they have heard about the development of urbanization. Those children have no access to education and spend most of their time on the streets. And some of them have no money to return home. Here there is a story of a young teenager who made his long way to the city as he thought he could help his parents to lessen the burden the family. As a young teenager, Sokhom thought he could help his parents escape poverty by finding work in the city. He left their small farm in rural Cambodia and found a job as a construction working in the capital, Phnom Penh. But the heavy labor was too difficult for him. Sokhom became one of the thousands of children living on Phnom Penh’s streets, begging for food and sleeping on the ground because he couldn’t afford to return home.
Violence is one of the factors that are now happening mostly in the countryside where people get very low education. I usually hear about violence in the radios and newspapers. A husband beat his wife and children when he gets really drunk. This case makes those children move out of their home to another place, especially to the city. If there were no violence, the children wouldn't have gone away from home.
Family breakdown is a result from violence a family. It is in the fact that violence will lead to breakdown in a family when a wife and children can not bear any kind of physical punishment. This is one of the reasons that make those children to leave their homes.

Street Children and Effects

Children are the most important for economic and social situation of a country. They will be the next generation that can help to build the country to development in the future. The country will not be developed when human rights are still low, and human resources are lacking. The society will be disorder when more people are poor, and they have no skills. As a matter of fact, there are lots of crimes happen everyday caused by juvenile criminals. I believe that if people have enough food and some money to spend, they will not want to rob or steal someone's property that make them hated by people around them.
The government is responsible for the state's welfare. Every root of people must be protected and promoted by the government as a parent. The state itself will not get ahead when many people are still poor. To become a developed state like Japan, economic and political factors have to be run smoothly as well as the support from people who live in the state.


[3]Various NGO networks have been formed on children's issues in general and specifically on service delivery, monitoring and evaluation in respect to sexually exploited children, and HIV/AIDS. NGO projects include a police hotline for reporting cases of sexual exploitation, integration of children into public school system, a project for the reintegration of street children through the Ministry of Social Affairs and community-based child protection initiatives. Various workshops and conferences have been run by a variety of state and non-state actors including workshops on the protection of the right of street children, child-safe tourism and alternative care for children.
Cooperation is very important between NGOs and the government to protect and promote children rights. Child participation is the core of value to community for success and sustainability. It is essential to integrate children into program planning and to develop their contribution to their own development by moving away from approaches that only respond to them as victims instead of as survivors.

Level of analysis

Through my observation, I think street children have equal right to other children who live with their parents in a good living standard, but the difference is that street children are treated inferior in the society. They don't have equal chance with equal treatment for they live in a poor society. To me in order to close this gap of discrimination, the government again has to do something like working hard and pay more attention to human right in rural areas that have not yet been developed to promote all kind of people for the equality.


[4]The Cambodian government needs to make its commitment to Cambodia's children, especially those at risk and on the streets through greater commitment to the Committee on the Rights of the Child(CRC). The state must give greater attention to provision of budget and legislation to address identified basic health and welfare needs. Donors need to support NGOs and civil society in promoting poverty reduction measures, including urban planning, taking into account the needs of poor families and street children.
Developing rural infrastructure is very important too. The government should support families through occupation and loan assistance and provide such parenting skills and medical support in cases of chronic illness. The government must be able to stop violence by increasing human right awareness via media and education. Village chief and police have to intervene in case of family violence and stop Bang Thom or Big Brother.
Local community services have to be established to help victims including emotional support. There should create more entertainment places in the community such as sport, music and library to avoid drug abuse.
The government should organize volunteer groups to work with street children for support, education and information about NGO centers that they can be encouraged to attend. Staff must have good relations and develop trust with the children.


Many street children are still living in the worst situation in Phnom Penh City. They won't have good future as ordinary children if they are not supported. They need support from generous people also lots of motivation from people around them.

- http://
- in children in Phnom Penh
[1] Antonio Graceffo,Rays of Hope on Dark Streets in Phnom Penh,(2004),New York City, at and
[2] Street Children in Cambodia, at in Cambodia
[3] A Civil Society Forum for East and South East Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children,12-14 March (2003), Bangkok, Thailand, at http://
[4]A Civil Society Forum for East and South East Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children,12-14 March (2003), Bangkok, Thailand, at http://

1 comment:

Stan Starygin said...

Hi Rith,

I am not sure your topic pertains to a particular legal right as per the assignment. I agree that it does have to do a certain social issue that doubtless is quite acute in Cambodia. I also see that you are pationate about this issue and that you attempted to re-phrase the material you had obtained through research into your own words. This is commendable. Regrettably, this wasn't what I had assigned, as I specifically indicated that I expected an essay on a legal right of choice. Examining the host of rights which fall under 'child protection' would have fit your purposes perfectly. I, unfortunately, don't see any evidence of material relevant to this in your paper.