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Arrest of Pedophile Highlights Trafficking Issues

The recent arrest of a well-known Russian businessman on charges of debauchery could mean the police are taking the problems of human trafficking and sexual exploitation more seriously. It could also mean they are looking to improve their standing in the eyes of the US, which puts out an annual report where Cambodia consistently scores poorly.

Either way, the practice is still pervasive, Lim Mony, a trafficking and child abuse expert for the rights group Adhoc, said Thursday.

Networks are strong, and tactics for the recruitment of women into the sex trade change quickly, she said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

Cambodia remains on a US State Department watch-list for failing to show enough effort to curb human trafficking.

The recent arrest of influential businessman Alexander Tromfimov might demonstrate that kind of will.

Lim Mony said she hoped the courts would "seriously sentence" Tromfimov, if he is found guilty.

Tromfimov is charged with having sex with seven underage girls, one as young as 10, in the port city of Sihanoukville.

Despite his arrest, this year showed no signs that authorities made progress in curbing sex trafficking, Lim Mony said.

"In 2007 there is no sign that the very complicated issues declined," she said. "It is almost like last year."

She warned parents that sexual exploitation and human trafficking normally occur through friends and was therefore hard to catch.

"What is hard to fight…is that many of beer gardens, hotels and massage parlors legitimately turn their establishments into places for sex and trafficking," she said.

Foreigners coming to Cambodia to exploit children remained a concern for anti-trafficking groups, she said, appealing to parents not to let their children become exploited, not to allow them to beg in the streets "or do something that is risky to a child's future."