First Step Cambodia

Protection from sexual abuse

First Step Cambodia helps, supports and intervenes in cases of sexual abuse and focuses on the male victims - because sexual abuse of boys is an even bigger taboo in Cambodia than in our country.

No child should be subjected to violence, abuse or neglect. But in Cambodia, one child in two has suffered severe beatings, and over five per cent of Cambodian children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, according to a Unicef study. Poverty, drug abuse, lack of positive education, domestic violence, lack of sex education, lack of knowledge about the problems in the communities and inadequate protection and reporting mechanisms are the main factors.

"We are working towards a Cambodia where all children, young people and adults are protected from the consequences of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation by everyone in society. This vision has been followed by the non-governmental organisation First Step Cambodia (FSC) since 2010 - and fortunately with increasing acceptance and success. Today, FSC experts are called in by local and regional organisations to provide concrete and direct services for boys and girls. In contrast to other organisations, FSC places a special focus on male victims - because the fact that boys can also be victims of sexual violence is still unthinkable or a taboo for many.

Support, Prevention, Capacity Building

FSC achieves its goal of protecting children and young people from sexual abuse and supporting victims of abuse through social work and other activities of its holistic strategy, which rests on three main pillars: Direct support, prevention and capacity building.

  • Prevention: FSC has developed a range of educational resources and tools that are used, for example, in workshops for children and adults in vulnerable communities, in schools and by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The aim is to improve understanding, knowledge and awareness of sexual abuse.
  • Capacity building: Knowledge transfer, or capacity building in new German, includes specialised training, learning and counselling opportunities to improve the skills of professionals so that they are able to deliver quality services to children and families.
  • Direct support: FSC offers regular counselling and therapy services for children affected by abuse and sexually harmful behaviour. This support is offered over a period of up to 24 months and includes families and childcarers.

First Step Cambodia, with 14 experienced social workers and trainers in two offices (Phnom Penh and Siem Reap), also conducts evidence-based research in Cambodia that helps to identify performance gaps and context-specific problems and continuously improve the effectiveness of services and advocacy.


For boys, the situation is even more alarming because of the socially dominant notions of "masculinity" ("boys cannot be victims"). Analyses and studies have shown that especially in Southeast Asia boys are more often victims of sexual abuse than girls. At the same time, five times fewer boys seek help in such cases (UNICEF 2012 and 2014). In terms of prevention and knowledge transfer, studies show that a staggering 40% of sexual assaults are carried out by the young men themselves. Here, FSC helps both the children affected by the attacks and those who carry out the attacks.

You can find detailed information and news about the work of First Step Cambodia on their website.

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