(WOMENSENEWS)–Earlier this month, 10 young Vietnamese women, who were allegedly smuggled into Cambodia to be sex slaves, were convicted of illegal immigration and deported back to Vietnam, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Although human rights advocates and the young women themselves said they were brought into the country against their will and sold into prostitution, a Cambodian judge sentenced them up to three months in jail and deportation. The young women, ranging in age from 12 to 18, had already spent a month in jail awaiting their trial. They were credited with time served and deported immediately without serving any more jail time.
The women were rescued from a brothel in May by activists working against sex trafficking. Police later arrested the women at an abused women’s shelter because they had entered the country illegally, according to the Associated Press.
The Cambodian government is not pursuing the person or persons involved in the forced prostitution of these young women nor are they offering any aid or services to these victims of the sex trade, press reports indicate.
As many as 20,000 underage prostitutes are working in Cambodia, according to the United Nations. The U.S. State Department estimates that a large percentage of the approximately 100,000 sex workers in Cambodia are working against their will.