Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 443–462 | Cite as

Sex trafficking in Cambodia: fabricated numbers versus empirical evidence

  • Thomas M. Steinfatt


Large numbers of sex trafficking victims, on the order of 80,000–100,000, have been alleged to exist in Cambodia over the past decade. Empirical results obtained from measuring the numbers of such victims in Cambodia are contrasted with the lack of support for the widely circulated guesstimates of these numbers. Examples of similar fabrications are discussed and followed through some of their early publication history. The methodology of conducting empirical field research in less developed countries is discussed and the origin of the guesstimates is probed in detail. Both the multiple methodologies employed by and the results of a program of empirical research on trafficking numbers in Cambodia conducted from 2002 to 2008 are discussed. These are compared with the results of additional empirical studies, and with the guesstimates. The existence of empirical results creates location knowledge of victims, presenting ethical questions.


Human Trafficking Taxi Driver Sexual Service Trafficking Victim Commercial Sexual Exploitation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support for the 2002 study [25] was provided by the School of Communication, University of Miami. The United States Agency for International Development sponsored and financially supported the 2003 study [20]. The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, sponsored and financially supported the 2008 study, and published it in 2011 [24]. The assistance and financial support of these agencies is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of CommunicationUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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