Thao Do

AI for Identification and Support for Victims of Sexual Exploitation in Southeast Asia

Project Summary

My PhD research focuses on the use of machine learning techniques and qualitative research methods in identifying online child sex trafficking patterns in Southeast Asia. This is an under-researched area, yet important and closely linked to the context of UK, US, and Europe. As the organized crime sector is growing on a transnational scale, cross-sectional and interdisciplinary research is becoming more important. According to the Internet Watch Foundation (2019), 95% of the world’s child sexual abuse material is hosted in Europe and North America, and more than half of the victims (73%) are in Asia and the Pacific. With my experiences of working with NGOs, researchers, and law enforcement officials in the field of Security and Intelligence in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Uganda, the research aims to: (1) Explore the application of data science/computer science in studying criminal activities, thus develop early detection tools that assist in the investigation and victims rescue process; (2) Build capacity, strengthen legal framework and collaboration across disciplines (academia, NGOs, government) and countries (UK, Vietnam, and Cambodia) through roundtable discussions and technical support; and (3) Provide human rights approaches and NGOs perspective in promoting effective victim protection and assistance. As the crime is trans-national (e.g., involving demands from Westerners, illicit webs hosted abroad, etc.), the research has the potential to be replicated in other countries where child sex trafficking is prevalent and assist in uncovering the international criminal networks involving child-sex exploitation.

Research Interests

AI for Social Good.


Governance & civil society.

Child protection.

Disaster management.

Public health.


BA in Economics, Foreign Trade University, Vietnam.

Exchange in Environmental Economics, Montana State University, US.

MA in Governance and Development, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK.

Work experiences in India, Tunisia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Uganda.


Prof Emma Carmel

Dr Julian Padget

Dr Alinka Gearon