tv Every Day in Cambodia A CNN Freedom Project Documentary CNN February 9, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
oh, my gosh, one to two inches we'll get here in new york, and everything keeps moving. i say that because my team in atlanta has left. already because the snow is coming in just a few days and they don't know what is going to happen. they may not be able to get home for years. i'm just having a little fun. i'm don lemon. "every day in cambodia" begins right now. my name is mira sorvino. i'm an actress and activist in the fight against modern day slavery. i'm joining the cnn freedom project in a search for the truth and for solutions. what we found will shock you and break your heart. it broke mine. but don't look away.
it's important that you see what's happening "every day in cambodia." ♪ if you were not born here, if you did not come from this place, you would never know it exists. >> there's no map, there's no sign. >> unless you are the worst kind of criminal, the kind who preys on children. >> it is known around the world as a place where head fipedophie to get little girls. >> every day in cambodia children are trafficked for sex, but the very youngest come from
this one community just outside the capital. >> this is the epicenter for child sex trafficking in cambodia. >> i've come to find out why and to try to make it stop. hi. good, how are you? >> good. >> i'm joining forces with don brewster, a husband, father and a staunch abolitionist. don came here from the u.s. on a mission trip a few years ago. he had just seen a news report about child trafficking. children were rescued and don wanted to rehabilitate them back into the community. he was told the area was all cleaned up except it wasn't. >> so i'm driving down and i say, good, it's all cleaned up, it's good. and i got down to the end here, and when i got to tend i was just turning my moto around and actually came out of this place
right here. and so he came up to me and he said, you want a young girl? and i said, again, i thought i was an investigator all of a sudden and i said, i would like two. and he said, okay, come with me. and i was pretty bold at first because i had our cam bode an director of our after care with me and feeling pretty confident. we get to a spot and they tell our director he can't go with me. i have to go by myself. well, now there is just me and this one kid, but pretty soon there was four of them and just me. and i'm thinking, what are you doing? i had $2 on me. and like, i'm not have in a very good position, but they took me to a house back over there, and there was over 60 little girls in this house. and i mean, we're talking 8 to 12 years, maybe max 12 years old. so they said, well, you pick the girls you want. so i picked two little girls. and then i'm thinking, i don't know what i'm going to do.
so i came up with this story and said, i'm here with a bunch of americans, there's 18 of us, and we all want 3 or 4 girls at least. they said, no problem. i said, well, today we want them. he said, no problem. if you want 200 today, you can have 200 today. and so i said, well, i'll go get my friends and we'll be right back. he said, oh, no, you take care of those two girls. pay me and take those two and then you go get your friends. and that's when i realized i was not an investigator. frankly, i just prayed like, how am i getting out of this mess? and i think god gave it to me. i said, you know the cambodian guy i'm with, he's no good, i have to get rid of them and come back with my flends, they bought it and let me go. >> did you come back? >> i went to police who did investigations and stuff and i said i have this big secret nobody knows about, and they said, yeah, we know it.
>> so don and his wife bridget made a life-changing decision. >> we realized if we are going to fight this, there needs to be somebody here 24/7. >> they moved here indefinitely. today his nonprofit agape international missions feeds, shelters and rehabilitates survivors. >> when we came here three years ago and began to live here, 100% of the kids between 8 and 12 were being trafficked. 100%. >> 100%? every child born was eventually sold to sexual trafficking? >> we didn't believe it until we saw van load after van load of kids being brought in. >> much has changed since then, but much hasn't. don says that children are still sold for sex every day.
it's just gone underground. many are sold as virgins by their own parents. as we walk along the dirt roads, don points out a table of men playing cards. he says they are there every day. >> instead of caring for their family or working, they sit there and gamble and drink every day because they traffic kids, including their own. >> these guys do. >> yep, these guys right here. >> their own, they traffic their own children? >> theirs as well as others, not just their own. see what happens when the light comes? >> the roaches scatter when the light comes. that's what happens when the light comes. i just want to yell at them, but i don't know what's going to happen if i yell at them. >> well, you know what the truth is? they think they are untouchable because they have been. >> do you think any of them speak english? >> no, most of them speak vietnamese. >> i knew they probably wouldn't understand me and that it wouldn't make any difference at all, but i felt compelled to say
something as futile as it might be. >> i just want them to know that the world is watching right now. i just want them to know there's a tally being taken. yeah, we are filming. it's not okay to sell children. it's not okay to sell children to pedophiles. it's not okay. and the world is watching. protect your children. do not hurt your children. protect them. oh, god, i can't deal with it. i can't deal with the reality of it. >> you know, you don't have to look in the children's eyes. >> i know. my god. sorry, i feel like i'm going to cry every moment of this entire experience. i've been so afraid of this experience. i've been, like, you know, because i've met a lot of survivors but i haven't been in the environment where it's happening every day, every day. that they would sell their own children, when i think how much
i love my own children, like, if they do it to their own children, they would do it to any children. how desperate must a mother be to allow her child to be harmed in such a horrific way? soon i'll be meeting some of these young survivors. don says they want to share their stories with me. they want the world to know what's happening here, and i can't wait to meet them. een percent or more on car insurance. yeah. everybody knows that. did you know there is an oldest trick in the book? what? trick number one. look-est over there. ha ha. made-est thou look. so end-eth the trick. hey.... yes.... geico. fifteen minutes could save you... well, you know.
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she has a smile that lights up her face and a smile that lights up in her eyes. >> we believe she was trafficked when she was 12. >> she doesn't know exactly when she was born. in her family, birthdays were not celebrated. here most families scrape by on less than a dollar a day. and most girls feel an obligation to work to help support their family. that's how her nightmare began. a woman came to see her mother offering a job for cue. [ speaking foreign language ]
>> the job was to sell her virginity, a big business in swipak. >> it can be anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. >> how much money did the lady say that your mom could get if you went there? [ speaking foreign language ] >> hue said she was taken on to a doctor to identify her virginity. [ speaking foreign language ]
>> she says the man kept her in his hotel room for two days. how did it feel after you left the man? broken, she returned home only to find out her mother had sold her again. >> once this girl has been sold, her virginity, if she's pretty by the standard of whatever country comes in, that's like $400 to have sex with her. and how many times in a day even a girl might be forced to have sex, really be raped by someone. there's lots of dollars involved in this. >> que says her mother sent her
to work in a northern brothel in cambodia far from home. [ speaking foreign language ] >> did you run away from the place? >> yes. >> she knew she couldn't go home, so she went to a friend for help. her friend took her to don. she's been recovering at the agape restoration center ever since. don says she's not safe at home. >> her mother is just a mean, mean spirited, i've really come down hard threatening her to leave her alone. she wasn't afraid to say to me, i want her to go to that brothel.
she was not saying i want her back with me, i want to care for her, don't worry. she just said, i want her back to go to the brothel. i want her to go there for the money. >> you're a beautiful, beautiful girl. i'm so sorry, so sorry. all along the cam bode an shore the makeshift boathouses are home to thousands off undocumented immigrants. they are poor, desperate and extremely vulnerable to the traffickers who come here looking for little girls.
this is where we found kieu's mother. like most who live here, she and her husband raised fish in a net under their floating house. when they couldn't make enough money selling fish, they took out a small loan with a high interest rate. it quickly grew. [ speaking foreign language ] >> that's when the trafficker came calling. she was paid just $500 for kieu's virginity, only a drop in the bucket toward the massive debt she'll never be able to pay off. [ speaking foreign language ]
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sold as virgins by their own mothers. holding hands for support, they sat with me and courageously shared their stories. sepak said she was 13 when it happened. who did you mother take you to? who did you have to go and be with? [ speaking foreign language ] >> and he knew that you were as young as you are? did he pay your mother a lot of money? [ speaking foreign language ] >> what did you mom say she was going to use the money for? [ speaking foreign language ] >> like kieu, she was taken to a hospital ahead of time, examined and issued a certificate to confirm she was a virgin. >> a low level of trafficking in svay pak takes the girls to a hospital, one specific hospital,
where they receive a certificate of virginity. and then this certificate of virginity is used in order to get the big dollars from the pedophiles that come into cambodia. [ speaking foreign language ] >> based on their description of it being a nice clinic, and it makes sense because it's foreign pedophiles, foreign sex tourists that are buying these girls, and they want true certification, so they want it from a substantial place. >> seapak said she was then delivered to a chinese man at a svay pak hotel. he kept her there for three nights. [ speaking foreign language ]
she has a bravery that really i don't think the outside world understands. >> when toha heard there was a client for virgins, she didn't know what that meant. how old were you when your mother wanted to sell your virginity? phone phone. >> you wanted to be a good daughter. like the others, toha says she was checked at a hospital, issued a certificate of virginity and delivered to a map at a hotel for three nights and it didn't end there. [ speaking foreign language ]
[ speaking foreign language ] >> even though you knew at the brothel you would have to sleep with other men? [ speaking foreign language ] >> so how long, how long did you stay at that brothel? foreign foreign [ speaking foreign language ] >> she managed to get her hands on a phone and called her friend for help. her friend called don who traveled to southern cambodia to rescue toha from the brothel.
>> when she first came, she went in our secure after care center because it was not just the bad guys who wanted to get her, frankly her mother wanted to get her to send her back to the brothel. i i can't imagine what it feels like to have your mother sell you, to have your mother waiting in the car while she gets money for you to be raped. how can that feel to a kid? she was not stolen from her mother, her mother gave the keys to the people to rape her. i mean, it's -- yeah. >> the weather matched the mood on the journey to immediate toha's mother. like the others, toha's parents are fish farmers, also originally from vietnam.
brothers and sisters, but toha's mother says she won't ever sell another child. [ speaking foreign language ] >> three girls, three mothers, three strikingly similar stories. they all describe an organized system for the sale of virginity. with the information provided by these three survivors, police now have a clear picture of how the underground sale of virgins operates. but they look the tools to put a stop to it. i want to fight as hard as i can to help you and other people like you.
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they claim, but building a case against a brothel that employs children is very difficult because the girls are vulnerable and afraid. they often lie about their age or how they got here. that's why undercover investigations are so important to generate evidence not solely based on witness testimony. but incredibly cambodia's anti-trafficking law does not allow police to conduct undercover surveillance. >> there was a change in the law and they interpreted it that they can't use undercover. like they do in drug trafficking. >> that's one of the reasons the number of arrests in human trafficking cases is dropping in cambodia. >> without being able to do undercover surveillance, here's the reality of what has to happen, your only way of getting somebody is a victim witness, which means a girl has to be trafficked or virginity sold, so she has to be raped. then you pray that she gets
rescued. if she gets rescued, then you pray she will have the courage to be a witness against the perpetrators. that's the only way for it to work. >> over the next two days, i set out to meet with two high-ranking officials at the forefront of cambodia's battle against human trafficking. general pokitay is in charge of the human anti-trafficking police task force. he's been in office less than a year and already he's frustrated. >> translator: we are still limited in prosecuting these violations because first we lack the expertise. and second we lack the technical equipment. sometimes we see a violation but we can't collect the evidence we need to prosecute the offender. >> this is the secretary of state for the interior ministry who oversees the nation's anti-trafficking mandate and has been working on getting the law changed. >> we will discuss about that, you know, because we plan to discuss among the justice
ministries and also the judge prosecutor and also police, work together to see how we can do it. >> i've met with victims around the world and i'll say to you that i met with children yesterday that broke my heart. and they don't have the time to wait for these discussions. you really must act -- you need to save their lives. every moment you wait, another child is being brutalized and raped in a brothel right now around us, they are suffering immensely. >> okay. >> so i beg you, as a mother, you do it. i believe you have this power. >> we have to practice the law. we have to be careful. >> i know, but it's not against your law even. it's a question of your interpretation. >> because of the law, it's not really our way of practice without any document, you know? >> okay. >> that's why we have to do it. >> i know. >> we wait for a long time, we just went for a few days later. >> if you need a few days, i'm okay with that. if it's a few years, i'm not okay with it. >> i can tell you that we need
to do it, but also we have to find a way how to do it. >> nothing happens quickly in cambodia. and don is not prepared to wait. in one of the ktv's we visited, he quietly showed a recording made by one of the girls living in his center, a survivor. the message encourages her escape and tells her how to do it. as we left, my heartached for that little girl. imagining a night and the life she had ahead of her. there are 13 ktv's along the road to svay pak. don says two years ago there were none, and they could not operate without the police officers who take bribes to look the other way. when i spoke to the girls at don's center, i asked them about
that. when you were at the brothel, were there ever policemen that came in that knew about the brothel or working somehow with the brothel owner? [ speaking foreign language ] >> did you see the police taking money from the brothel owners while you were there? [ speaking foreign language ] >> so the police informed them when there was going to be a raid. don says that's what happened the first time he tried to rescue toha. >> toha was trapped in this brothel and she gets ahold of a phone, she knows about us, so she calls. and says, can you come and get us? and we're able to work with the
trafficking police and they secure a warrant to do a raid, however before they get there, there's a tipoff, the brothel owner finds out, moves all the girls, and when the anti-trafficking police get there, there's no one to rescue. [ speaking foreign language ] >> even the general acknowledges corruption does exist among police ranks. >> translator: there are two likely scenarios in svay pak. one, the brothel owner may intimidate a child by saying they have connections with the police. two, police in that area probably do have connections with the brothel owners. >> what would you say about how to confront this kind of corruption that is allowing these people to get away with the rape of little girls?
>> translator: we must educate the police about their willingness to combat this activity. in the past there's been some. it's not like it doesn't exist, but we are resolving it gradually. we now have an anti-corruption unit and we have anti-corruption laws. when they find corruption, they will punish them accordingly. >> i think he wants to make an impact on this, but i think he's in a tough position right now because the corruption is at pretty high levels. >> toha doesn't think much about politics and police corruption, but she does want her day in court. after don rescued her from the brothel, he called police who arrested the brothel managers, a husband and wife team. they are in jail awaiting trial. >> their conviction and actually staying in prison will do tons to have other girls be brave to speak up, because they want to see success thus far while the
girls have been brave to speak up given testimony, given details that we were able to corroborate, nothing's happened with it. and if we start having just a small level of success, more and more girls will speak up. we've only got towards the investigative judge who has said, yes, we're going to go to trial. and we've been waiting several months to get to trial. >> how do you feel? i asked toha how she feels knowing it was her testimony to police that put the brothel managers behind bars? [ speaking foreign language ] >> i feel like you have very powerfulful friends here that are going to protect you and keep you safe like don and his family and everybody who works here. here toha is safe from predators. she's healing. she's growing. and she's building a future in a
love. but he says that's not enough for the long term. >> when that time comes to reintegrate her, she's going to go into a very difficult circumstance. with us she's loved 24/7 unconditionally, and now she's going into a community that says she's trash. that believes she's trash. so the truth is from the cultural perspective, she is a piece of trash. the only way to change that is if they have a good job where they can support themselves and help support their family. >> so, this is your factory. >> this is it. >> don opened this factory in august 2012. the entire workforce is made up of survivors. >> so these jobs that we're able to provide in our factories are far more than a place of employment, they are a place that restore honor to a girl, not just in the eyes of the girl, not just in the eyes of the people at the factory, but within the whole community they become people of honor again. all these girls that you see
here in this floor and upstairs, they are all survivors of sex trafficking. >> upstairs the girls are making intricately woven bracelet, each one hand-signed. making money is not the number one goal. >> i'm more concerned with making a difference than making money, because the products we sell out of our factory cost more, right? because we pay three to four times the wages in any other factory, they work five days a week, they get health care, childcare, so the product is much more expensive, but the result of purchasing one is the freedom, love and empowerment. >> making the bracelets is one thing, selling them is entirely another. >> it takes really someone who is going to distribute the product because you're not going to be able to make enough money selling the product here. in order to support the girls at the level and provide the benefits, so you need someone in
the western country that will say, i care more about making a difference than money, and ken peterson of apricot land is one of those guys. >> hey, there, thank you so much for coming to cambodia, we are so excited that you're here. >> oh, thank you. i'm so excited to learn more about the work that you're doing. >> i had a chain of apricot lane stores and said we are blessed with our growth, but we have to be more about if we can come together, we can make a difference. and then i went back to my system and said, would you support something? it's a difficult subject.
this is about providing hope for their future. dignity and self-esteem. we want them to develop skills. don says a good education is just as important as a good job. so he opened a school. >> we have a couple thousand kids when we got 350 places right now. we're hoping to buy it and knock it down and put up another school.
soy later today, it will be filled with 36 rescue survivors who are being healed. and many of them -- >> is it opening today. >> civilian casualty opening today. >> can we be there today? >> it is. >> it is programs most exciting. the new home opening, she is leaving the shelter. she can finally go home. >> she is very excited about going back. >> it's great. ve, and save your money. joe doesn't know it yet, but he'll work his way up from busser to waiter to chef before opening a restaurant specializing in fish and game from the great northwest.
he'll start investing early, he'll find some good people to help guide him, and he'll set money aside from his first day of work to his last, which isn't rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade. never taken the time to just...watch. but something about spending this time together, sailing past ancient glaciers in alaska... talking under a universe billions of years old... makes you realize how old time is and how short life is. she can take all the time she wants. princess cruises, come back new. ♪ princess cruises, come back new. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. yeah. everybody knows that. did you know there is an oldest trick in the book? what? trick number one.
16 girls in don's program are moving into their new home. >> the girls who came into the new house, you know, home makeover, the tv show. it was like that. they go in every room and they're screaming. it is so beautiful and they're jumping on the beds laughing and singing. >> after that unbelievable time, i went to the very open air top of the roof top. and these girls all came out and they spontaneously broke out into joy and laughter and they grabbed hands and they formed the circle and they started singing. ♪ >> and i lost it. >> look at the difference that's
being made here in cambodia. look where they've been and where they are today. and it was just overwhelming today. it took me out. >> there is not enough money in the world to replace the joy that we got to be a small part of that day. >> it is finally judgment day for brothel manage here's kept her under lock and key for 22 days. don is optimistic. tend judge was visibly moved when he testified. >> he understood the reality of what happened in 22 days. because looking at it from the outside, you could say, wow, just 22 days she was rescued from sex trafficking. the truth is, in those 22 days,
she was raped 198 times. >> the verdict for the brothel manager and his wife, three years in prison. though not the maximum, it's a start. they were also ordered to pay fees to the court and fines to their victims. >> a lot to her. it would be an you believable amount if she gets the $5,000 if she was award but more than that, it is just the idea that she was brave. she stood up and now people will pay the price and girls will be protected. so it's not just that she was rescued. now that brothel is shut down. there is nothing going on there and other girls have been freed. so it will be a big deal for her. >> she wants to speak out. she wants her voice to be heard.
>> the girls all want to be advocates in the fight against sex trafficking. >> what do you hope for your future? what do you want to do when you're a little older? >> don has high hopes for the girls' future. and high expectations for the future there as well. but his work is far from done. he has just committed to live here for another eight years. >> frankly, sometimes we're frustrated that more hasn't been done. because if there is one girl being abused, it is too many, right? but over the last year and a half, we got more and more
people in the village that are actually protecting their own children. who have been brave enough to stand up and be witnesses against the perpetrators. and it is really, it is an unbelievable transformation. peru is a country that's historically driven men mad, mad -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com peru is a country that's historically driven men mad, mad orange county fire rescue? >> 6600 sea harbor