« The Lost Children of Southeast Asia » is a photo-documentary which depicts forced child labor in Southeast Asia and the parallel between childhood and its “result” in adulthood.
I arrived in South East Asia in 2017, I was struck by those wandering children, working in the streets, most often in touristic areas. In 2020, according to CNUCED, Cambodia is still ranked among the poorest countries in the world and the least developed. Children represent 36% of the population, and although primary school enrolment rates are high, many children from poor rural families, ethnic communities and people with disabilities do not complete primary school leaving them at prey for sexual exploitation and forced labor. In 2015, a local NGO estimated that approximately 1,200 to 1,500 children lived on the streets without any relation to their families, and 15,000 to 20,000 children worked in the streets but returned to their families at night.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation occurs mainly between Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia being the central hub where children are being exploited.
During a discussion with Oun, a teenage Cambodian girl, she explains to me with irony:
"All my friends want to become lawyers, doctors, businessman, but they will all end up either becoming Tuk-tuk drivers, shop owners, or drug dealers…"