Barriers to Sexually Exploited Cambodian Women Integrating into Churches: Perspectives of Sexually Exploited Women and the Christian Community
Tricia J. Hester has been living in Cambodia for over 8 years, working to advocate for access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for Cambodian women. She is a health education technical advisor and educator for organizations in Cambodia. Her current project involves advocating for cervical cancer awareness, screening, and interventions at the local and national level. Her educational background in global health, education, and nursing has given her a broad base to approach many health issues specific to developing countries. You may learn more about her experiences and what she does on her LinkedIn page, Tricia Hester.
Sopheak Kong is from Chbar Mon, Cambodia. She has been working with Precious Women organization, Phnom Penh, since 2012 and is the Operations Director. Her educational background is in social work. She has a passion to help women who are exploited, by promoting their value, dignity, and rights. You may learn more about Sopheak at www.preciouswomen.org
Glenn M. Miles resides in the UK and has dedicated his life for the past 25 years to working on issues around children at risk and vulnerable young adults. He is currently an independent evaluation research and training consultant and partner for Freedom Resource International. He is a pioneer in the facilitation of a series of research projects, bringing global awareness to the vulnerabilities of sexually exploited children that includes boys, young men, and transgender people living in Cambodia, India, Philippines, and Thailand. His educational background includes a Ph.D. from the University of Wales, focusing on child’s rights and sexual exploitation. You may learn about Glenn and his published research at http://gmmiles.co.uk/about-us/
The aim of this cross-sectional study is two-fold. First, it investigates the barriers experienced by sexually exploited Cambodian women when integrating into Christian churches. Second, it explores pastors’ perspectives towards sexually exploited women integrating into churches. A mixed-method approach to data collecting was designed. Participants’ answers were gathered by the staff of a faith-based non-governmental organization (NGO) in Cambodia that assists women in exiting the commercial sex industry. The concept of spirituality is important to distinguish, within the context of this study, because it has been found within research to play a meaningful and relevant role in the (re)integration process. Several important discoveries were made at the completion of the study. The pastors’ surveys revealed that respondents were extremely open to reach out to sexually exploited women; however, understanding how to strategically accomplish this was a significant barrier. Another major discovery revealed that the majority of the women listed job commitments and family as the predominant barriers to attending church when (re)integrating into the community. None of the women listed discrimination by church congregations as a barrier. Three main areas were identified in this study that need further consideration. More research needs to be done regarding the social, cultural, and religious influences of family members as a primary barrier to attending church. In addition, deeper exploration and closer analysis need to be done into how faith-based NGOs operate to reach spiritual outcome goals during the (re)integration process. Lastly, church congregations need additional educational support services regarding the existing barriers to church attendance for sexually exploited women.
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Hester, Tricia J.; Kong, Sopheak; and Miles, Glenn M. (2020) "Barriers to Sexually Exploited Cambodian Women Integrating into Churches: Perspectives of Sexually Exploited Women and the Christian Community," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 4. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2020.05.01.04
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