A host of recruitment agencies has sprung up in Cambodia, with many former garment workers deciding to go abroad to find work, hoping for higher wages. However, the agencies do not always treat workers very well.According to a 2009 study by the International Labor Organization, nearly 10,000 legal migrant workers left Cambodia in 2007, going primarily to Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea to work as domestic helpers and factory workers.
Labor migration is often associated with problems such as debt, human trafficking, slavery or prostitution. In order to prevent such problems, the Cambodian government introduced laws allowing only qualified and licensed agencies to recruit migrant workers.
However, Moeun Tola from the Cambodian NGO, the Community Legal Education Center, says that new problems have arisen as a result: "The recruiting agents lend money to the families and the workers are kept in training centers."
He says that the workers liken the conditions in these recruitment centers to those in prison. "The agents lock the door and force them to stay inside the rooms. They do not have phone connections to call home. When people want to go home because of the conditions, the companies ask for compensation, saying they have lent money to the families."
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