On a recent diplomatic tour, President Obama and White House officials visited with Cambodian leaders regarding the nation’s human trafficking and modern slavery challenges.

According to the World Bank, one in three people in Cambodia live on less then $1.25 per day. Extreme poverty, illiteracy, and lack of understanding contracts make Cambodians especially vulnerable to trafficking. Abolish Slavery Reports:

…workers have reported employers in destination countries withholding copies of employment contracts and confiscating passports…Within Cambodia, parents sometimes sell their children into conditions of forced labor, including domestic servitude, and send them to beg on the streets in Thailand. Cambodian children are also transported to Vietnam for the purpose of forced labor. The Svay Pak brothel area outside Phnom Penh, where children are exploited in the sex trade, continues to operate despite numerous attempts by police to close it down. According to the ILO, children are involved in other manifestations of the worst forms of child labor including work in agriculture, brick-making, street vending, and begging; these children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

Sexual exploitation of Cambodian women continues to be a serious problem. While Cambodian men make up the largest demand for child prostitution, the country is also a destination site for American and European sex tourists.

Unfortunately, the country has failed to meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. On his recent tour, President Obama encouraged the nation’s leaders to strengthen the country’s efforts.

According to the White House Blog:

Ending human trafficking is a top U.S. priority in Cambodia. To get there, progress will have to be made in preventing trafficking, protecting survivors, and holding offenders accountable.

Cambodian leaders told the administration that trafficking impacts both men and women, but that women have a more difficult time rejoining society. According to the White House Blog, “They also noted that until the broader society values its women as much as its men, women will continue to be vulnerable to exploitation.”

Modern slavery is one of the most heinous crimes against personal freedom and liberty. This is not a partisan issue, nor should it divide the left and the right.