Frontline Stories

Escaping from the Evil World

Sreymon, 25, a human trafficking survivor, used to live in hopelessness after being tricked into the sex industry at 10. She filled her days with drugs, cigarettes and gambling when she worked as a sex worker.

At 15, Sreymon successfully escaped from the brothel and ran back to her family. A month later, she became severely sick with an HIV-related disease. Because of stigma, her parents expelled her from home. “At that time I was only about 40 lbs, weak, and only able to crawl and beg for money on the street. I went to a hospital for help when I barely got enough money. I told the doctor that I was an orphan as I was totally hopeless,” said Sreymom.

“That night, I thought I would die because I was so weak and had a bad headache. I was so scared because many HIV patients die every day. At that time, two World Vision staff approached me and asked if I knew God and would want to bring me the Good News. I was not sure if God exists but I learnt to pray. My first prayer was that if God does exist, please save my life.

“I was delirious but I kept praying every day. One day, I fell asleep and dreamed of man, dressed in white, saying to me three times: ‘You will be alive!’ I woke up and thought it was a ghost who came to claim my life. However, on the contrary, I woke up having a good appetite and started reviving since then.

“World Vision staff encouraged me to walk again. A week after prayers, I could stand and move again. I felt much better!”

Today, Sreymom works as a cleaner at World Vision Cambodia. She spends her weekends at church, and speaks twice a month in her community to raise people’s awareness on human trafficking and its prevention. “Every day, I pray for His protection over all girls, that they would not fall into trafficking scam like I did.”

“Whenever I feel hopeless and unhappy, I share my story of God and His wonderful works on me. God always listens and responds to my prayers. I did not know how to pray but World Vision staff encouraged and told me that God loves children who just mumble. They take care of me and are not afraid of catching the diseases from me. They have never despised me. They are like my new parents.

“My life today is from God. He has given me a new life!”

HIV and Female Sex Workers

Out of extreme poverty, many sex workers in developing countries were lured into the sex industry. Some deceived by lies, some being trafficked, all of them chained in modern-day slavery. More miserably, their world comes to an end if they are found to be HIV positive. Today, there are approximately 30,000 young men and women trapped in Cambodia’s sex trade.

Each minute, one young woman is infected by HIV. However, women from key populations are particularly vulnerable – globally, female sex workers are 13.5 times more likely to be living with HIV than other women. Among female sex workers, global HIV prevalence is approximately 30 percent in settings with medium to high HIV prevalence.

Nearly 5 million people are living with HIV in Asia, with 80 percent located in South Asia. Cambodia, the Asian country that shows the best progress in reducing new HIV infections, has seen a drop of more than 50 percent. In 2011, Cambodia is also the only country in the Asia Pacific region that has reached over 80 percent coverage of antiretroviral therapy. However, women constitute a growing share of people living with HIV in Cambodia. Prevalence rate in female sex worker in Cambodia, as high as 10-20 percent, is the highest among that of Asian countries.

World Vision works to improve access to comprehensive knowledge, skills, services and support to reduce new HIV infections in children and youth, with special attention to gender-based vulnerability. Programmes are also carried out at need communities for integrated, family-centred HIV diagnosis, care and treatment services. Nevertheless, policies and practices are in place to reduce stigma, uphold the rights of people affected by HIV, and address gender inequities that tend to make the vulnerable more susceptible to HIV.

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