A small girl was clapped in chains and forced to drink her own urine after her family got into debt in Cambodia.

The shocking child abuse case was uncovered by a charity worker who discovered the four-year-old chained to a post outside a building in a small town in Koh Kong province, in the south of the country.

She was unable to move for as much as eight hours a day and once drank her own urine because she was so thirsty.

The child was reportedly held captive by a woman who lent her mother money and wanted to make sure it was paid back, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

But heartbreakingly, the mother of the girl apparently could bring her daughter back home because she cannot afford to feed her.

She told police: "I love her but I have no-one to look after her when I go to work."

According to reports, the woman clapped the girl in chains between 7am and 5pm with a two-hour break in between, while she was at work.

Police were told it was because she was worried the girl might drown in waters, get lost or run away.

A resident of the town where she was held captive for two years told the Post: "I felt so much pity for her. It is so bad.

"I think all children have the right to be cared for, not chained up like a dog. I wonder why the other workers didn't report it, but for me, I had to report it."

Social services have now got involved in the case, it was reported.