Daun Penh district authorities on Tuesday destroyed a pile of pornography confiscated from vendors and coffeeshop proprietors around the city, officials said.
Kao Kosal, an official in Daun Penh’s office of culture, said Wednesday that 200 magazines were burned and 1,032 video cassettes and 400 VCDs were crushed by a steamroller in the district office’s parking lot. He said the action was intended to discourage the selling and showing of pornographic materials.
Kao Kosal called pornography a danger to society, blaming it for domestic violence and rape.
The government outlawed the sale of pornography in early 2001. Since then, police have periodically cracked down on market vendors and coffeeshop owners who play movies to attract customers.
Some have said they would like to show more wholesome movies, but the mainstream fare does not draw as much business.
Nonetheless, Mom Soth, the acting director of the municipality’s Department of Culture and Fine Arts, said Wednesday that the showing of porn in Phnom Penh coffeeshops has decreased since 2001.
Chea Vannath, president of the Center for Social Development, decried the effects she said porn has had on Cambodian society. “It has indirectly affected the family, but it is directly related to rape,” she said.
She described porn viewing as “out of control” in Cambodia, saying it has warped people’s perceptions of acceptable behavior.
Typically a voice for civil liberties, Chea Vannath made an exception on the porn issue. “You must balance freedom of expression and social order,” she said.
Despite allowing rampant prostitution, the government officially has shown little tolerance for the peddling of smut and sexual accouterments.
In 2001, a Chinese businessman who opened Cambodia’s first and only sex shop was convicted of debauchery under the sex trafficking laws. Among other items, the store sold rubber penises and herbal aphrodisiacs, both of which the authorities deemed dangerous.
(Additional reporting by Porter Barron)