Children from poor families in Cambodia are highly vulnerable, often facing daily threats to their health, education, safety and overall development. Every day in Cambodia, children are exposed to abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect. These issues are often exacerbated by gender inequity, marginalization of urban and rural poor, and negative attitudes and discrimination towards ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
The justice system in Cambodia is still emerging and illequipped to respond to the needs of children who come into contact with the law whether as victims, witnesses or offenders. Inadequate judicial and law-enforcement contribute to the problem of violence, exploitation and abuse of both boys and girls in Cambodia.
Despite the nation’s success in controlling the HIV epidemic, HIV has tightened its grip on the nation’s most vulnerable and marginalized populations, which include more women, children and young people. A potential ‘second wave’ of new infections among key populations, such as people who use drugs, men who have sex with men and entertainment workers, threatens to undermine the nation’s progress in controlling HIV and AIDS. Young people under the age of 24 within these groups are among those most at risk. To achieve more coherent results for children, young people and their families, UNICEF has integrated its HIV prevention, care and support efforts into its child protection programme.
Every child has the right to be protected from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. UNICEF supports the government to strengthen child protection systems to protect vulnerable girls, boys, women and families, including children with disabilities and those affected by HIV and AIDS, and to address social norms to enhance the protective role of families and communities.
UNICEF's main government partners in child protection are: