banlung, Ratanakkiri province -Five girls were rescued and an alleged human trafficker was arrested in a raid on a karaoke bar in Banlung town Friday night, police and an NGO worker said.
Following a tip, five girls, aged 15 and 16, were taken from the Dam Ny karaoke bar where police claim they had been employed as sex-workers, said Koksi Thanit of the anti-trafficking NGO Save the Children, who worked alongside police on the case.
Koksi Thanit said the girls, who were all from Kandal province, had been promised legitimate work in Phnom Penh but had instead been brought to the karaoke bar in Banlung by Yin Hoeun, 36.
Koy Prel, deputy director of the provincial anti-trafficking police department, said Yin Hoeun was
charged with human trafficking and is being held in pre-trial detention.
The girls will be sent to Phnom Penh, where they will be helped by NGOs or returned to their families, he said.
Friday’s rescue, which was organized after one of the girls escaped and tipped off the authorities, is the second case of human trafficking to come to light in Banlung in recent years, Koksi Thanit said.
But an explosion in the number of karaoke bars and brothels in the rapidly growing provincial capital of Banlung means that it is unlikely to be the last, he warned.
“These places are increasing [in number] to serve the growing economy and the large numbers of tourists—both domestic and international—who are coming here,” he said.
Koy Prel also warned of an increase in human trafficking in Banlung, adding that a number of recently opened karaoke parlors were hiring minors.