Breaking the cycle: shifting towards effective education reform to overcome poverty and abate Cambodia's sex industry.

AuthorVo, Janet
PositionI. Introduction through II. A Brief History of Education, the Sex Industry, and Poverty in Cambodia, p. 455-481

    In 1975, the Khmer Rouge's "Year Zero" campaign to transform Cambodia into a self-sufficient, agrarian society drastically uprooted the nation. (1) From the hardships of labor camps to the atrocity of executions, the Khmer Rouge's regime's four-year reign resulted in the death of at least 20% of Cambodia's population. (2) Anyone who exhibited traces of Westernization or attachment to the former government, including educated individuals was targeted as a threat to the revolution. (3) As a result, the Khmer Rouge dismantled a society already hindered by conflicts and its colonial past, which had affected the country's education system prior to the new regime. (4) Historically, Cambodia is well-known for the horrific Khmer Rouge genocide and its refugee exodus; more recently, Cambodia's sex industry and its impoverished conditions have garnered notorious, global recognition for exploiting women and children. (5) Although Cambodia's tragic history is in the past, the development of its sex industry primarily was a result of the conditions that the Khmer Rouge's devastating impact created. (6)

    This Note will examine how the abatement of Cambodia's sex industry requires effective education reform in order to overcome the cause of reoccurring poverty. (7) Specifically, education helps women and children develop the skills necessary to participate in the labor market and reduces entry into the sex industry. (8) Part II will examine the historical evolution of education's role in shaping Cambodia's labor market, illustrate the underlying factors sustaining the sex industry, and identify the external factors linking education to the sex industry. (9) Part III will discuss the existing domestic and international laws and policies enacted to regulate the education sector and the sex industry; additionally, it will consider other nations' approaches to education reform. (10) Part IV will analyze the challenges in achieving education reform and regulating the sex industry, through a framework identifying the challenges to abating poverty. (11) Finally, Part V will summarize how education reform is necessary to transform Cambodia's labor and economic landscape to abate the sex industry. (12)


    1. Destruction and Reconstruction of Education

      The Khmer Rouge regime and its agenda on socialism uprooted Cambodia's economy, culture, and social structures. (13) In particular, they had detrimental effect on the country's education system. (14) Although four decades have passed since the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia's education system still does not adequately provide access to quality education for all children. (15)

      1. Lasting Impact of the Khmer Rouge Era

        Despite Cambodia's struggle to develop its education system historically, it was still considered modern in the Southeast Asia region because of its educated scholars and regional network of universities. (16) Once the Khmer Rouge took over, however, they eliminated the existing education system by converting schools into torture chambers, destroying libraries, and executing many educated people. (17) The Khmer Rouge forced the Cambodian people into labor to increase the country's rice production and implemented a new education system to be in line with socialist principles. (18) During the Khmer Rouge era, the regime was also engaged in an ongoing conflict with neighboring Vietnam, resulting in further damage to the country's social, cultural and economic structures. (19) When Vietnam invaded the country in 1979, the Khmer Rouge lost power and fled, and the two remained in conflict for another twenty years. (20)

        In the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge era, Cambodia gradually reopened its schools during the stages of...

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