International Justice Mission = AWESOME

Our morning was a whirlwind of learning about three IJM departments: IJM Investigations, IJM Aftercare and IJM Legal. I am very impressed by this organization. I am first impressed by how well they hire and the leadership that is being provided. Each individual is an outstanding person. Their character proclaims credibility and authenticity. Within seconds you know they are “the real thing”, passionate, honest and determined to do their work with excellence. They know what they believe and why and have grappled through tough questions about evil, God’s sovereignty, and seen the transforming difference Jesus makes in the world. I feel like I could talk to them forever so it is a good thing that we will spend eternity together one day!

IJM Investigations

IJM is not trying to stop prostitution of adult age women. IJM is trying to stop the exploitation and trafficking of minors. Prostitution in Cambodia is so common. There are many  cultural attitudes around prostitution but most will agree that prostitution of minors is wrong.

Depreciation of a girl is fast. You get huge money for a virginity sale. Trafficking of girls is systemic, often even generational. They think it is justifiable considering their poverty. “I survived, I did what I had to do back in the day, it’s my daughter’s turn.” The young girl still has value as she is “fresh” but eventually she loses her value in the industry and then ends up in a karaoke bar, a beer garden.

Svay Pak (THE area of child sexual exploitation) in 2003 and now is very different. Pedophiles went out to Svay Pak, did their business right there.

IJM Investigations measures success on how many rescues are accomplished- but that’s not the entire goal. Really, it would be preferable to se the children never get there, never get exploited in the first place. The hard thing is that you then never know who was prevented from being trafficked. In many ways it is similar to being a missionary, one never knows who was potentially affected by the work that you did in sharing the gospel. Success here is that we took out the people who are not going to be able to traffic others anymore.

Pray for discernment, eyes to see, ears to hear in brand new ways. Street smarts. How do you follow that? How do you identify what is happening, who the players are?

The good news is that it is now a more difficult business for traffickers- they can no longer show children.

The IJM model is to use the individual casework to identify the problem, create enough social demand to create change in law. The casework has show that there is a huge leak in the

Other organizations have political horsepower to work with government to change the laws. IJM is working with these organizations.

IJM Aftercare

The person heading aftercare is a wonderful mix of strength, wisdom, compassion and gentleness. I have really enjoyed watching her interact with people. You can tell that she has well-honed listening skills and she asks great questions. She is also confidant and self aware, humble and credible. I am awed by God’s sovereignty in bringing just the right person from around the world to do His work. It is no small thing to take on this position because aftercare is a tough area to lead… Especially aftercare for trafficked minors in a country like this one. She has been on staff at IJM for 5 years. I can’t even imagine what she has seen and heard in that time. Sitting with her, you feel like you have known her for years. She is incredibly approachable and you know she genuinely cares about you. It’s like sitting with a female Jesus. Oh that we could all have that said about us!

IJM Aftercare: Vision and Need

IJM seeks to restore to clients of oppression the things that God intends for them: their lives, their liberty, their dignity, and the fruits of their labor as well as engender hope and transformation in the lives of those it serves.

What does IJM Aftercare do?

IJM Aftercare provides Crisis Care & Support following Interventions:

Provide crisis care at the police station

–       emotionally

–       physically

–       translation needs

–       needs assessment / victim identification

Aftercare helps trafficking survivors to see that they are not in trouble. Aftercare needs to be there so the victim feels safe, they are providing support for a min of 48 hours at the police station- day and night – until the girls are put in an aftercare shelter. They explain what is going on and that the police wants to help them. It takes awhile to convince the girls because the perpetrator will often tell victims lies about police and NGOS to prevent the girls from getting help. They are scared to receive the help. They receive a care package- food, water, toiletry supplies. Eventually they feel cared for. In 48 hours some of the girls will build trust and will then share more. IJM Aftercare works to get more of the full story, assess their needs, serve them better.

Aftercare also works with the government and NGO aftercare services. IJM does not have a physical centre for Aftercare- they partner with other NGOs who have centre care. IJM ensures the victims get medical care, social care, safe place, skills training and people who will assist them in moving back to the community.

Survivors of trafficking all have a choice of whether or not they want to participate in the case against their perpetrators. For those who choose to participate, aftercare staff help them prepare for the process of sharing their testimony truthfully in court, which can be a scary and difficult process.

The need for victim care continues long after the operation is over. Victims need a safe place and a safe people to help the process and heal from their pain. IJM ensures victims receive Ongoing Victim Care. IJM Aftercare ends up doing a lot of “case management” to ensure that each victim’s multiple needs are being addressed.

Most partners have an agreement with the highest reputation clinics so that the victims are treated professionally, and where there is high confidentiality. Medical treatment always includes testing for STIs and HIV. Remarkably, very few clients are HIV+.

Most of the girls in client rescues are 15 and over.

IJM ensures that all survivors receive:

–       Individualized Treatment planning

–       Medical support

–       Psychosocial support

–       Placement

–       Economic Empowerment

–       Support through Legal process including training the aftercare partners on how to counsel the victims as they have the relationship with the client

–       Transition to Safe and Sustainable Living Environment

In order to return to their community safely, they need to have a sustainable income. Some it is going to school, some it is to receive training. There are no laws around how long to go to school. There are labor laws. At 15 you can work. There are clients who are 16 or 17 years old who have never had any school. They need the vocational job training programs and lifeskills- like literacy training.

Some of IJM Partner Organizations

–       Chab Dai Coalition (has 2 member Cambodian organizations working together to end sex trafficking)

–       World Hope International (assessment centre, always send minor victims there)

–       Agape International Missions (50 staff, counselor, social worker, house moms)

–       Hagar Cambodia (150 staff, great model of care program, wholistic care. Training centres, school, help clients with life skills, placement for victims)

–       Transitions Global (helping the victims to be ready to go back to the community, how to live independently)

–       World Vision  (doing work with the Vietnamese victims, have a lot of Vietnamese staff)

–       Bloom Café (business training, loving environment, professional environment)

–       Sak Saum

–       Rapha House

The shame is enormous. Moral cycle-strong pressure on girls to provide for their families. How do you negotiate that it is good to provide for your family but you don’t need to sacrifice your body to do it?

Aftercare helps to create Structural Transformation. They build partnerships with AHTJP Police and the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSAVY) to ensure that clients receive humane and nurturing caregiving. Survivors should never be put in a jail cell, they should never have to see their perpetrators or hear them threatening them, they should be treated sensitively and officials should know the trauma the victim had. IJM Aftercare works with IJM Police Training on how to respond to the trauma and victim at the police station. Currently, IJM Aftercare is working with the MoSAVY to implement in their policies how to refer victims to the services, how to remove the victims from the brothels.

How will Aftercare adapt to the new situations (like what investigations is dealing with) in communities?

Building alliances in communities

Building trust in communities through key families

Over the next few days in Cambodia, we will be meeting many different aftercare partners and hearing how they help IJM Cambodia continue to care for the girls IJM rescues.

IJM Legal Department


  • Empower victims to stand up to those who exploit and use them
  • Hold perpetrators accountable through successful prosecutions
  • Transform the public justice system through training and excellent casework.

Cambodia is a destination country of perpetrators for commercial exploitation. The victims have low education and are poor. IJM assists them to understand their basic rights and how to deal with their situations.

The IJM Legal Department works with the government and court systems.

Casework is key to holding the perpetrator accountable. Not just rescuing the children. In order to transform the system here, need to provide training to associates, how to do the best casework, working with other legal attorneys on how to transform the system for the rights of our clients. Political will is often one of the main issues.

Background and Need

Deficiencies in the legal system originated during the reign of the Khmer Rouge as most of the legal professionals were killed during the Khmer Rouge era making it difficult to educate future generations of lawyers.

Today, only half the judges in the country have law degrees, resulting in frequent misapplication or misinterpretation of the law. There are currently four before the Royal Academy of Judicial Professional to become judges. Now they must be lawyers and then spend two years in the Royal Academy before becoming a judge.

Today there are about 751 lawyers in the country, a quarter of which practice legal aid for a country of 16 million. Not all of them practice- only about 400 practice. If someone doesn’t wan t to practice they have to request it from the Cambodian Bar Association. For example, the current prime minister is a lawyer but he is not practicing.

There are many, many children who need legal aid but it is not available.

Gap between Law and Practice Challenges:

  • Incorrect interpretation or application of laws.
  • Inappropriate presentation of evidence
  • Difficult in accurately identifying and dealing with criminal evidence due to lack of resources and training.

This session was cut short because it was prayer time followed by an all staff lunch with us, however, when we go to Siem Reap, IJM legal staff will be with us touring the courts and so we will be learning more about the Legal Department at that time.

I found it fascinating that our presentation by the legal staff was cut short “because it was prayer time.” JM has such a focus on prayer that it is acceptable to end meetings, whether or not the meeting is done, in order for the community to come together to pray. They passionately believe God needs to be at the centre of their work.

It was a full morning of learning which set us up very well for a full afternoon and evening of seeing aftercare partners.


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