Military police raided a karaoke bar in Kompong Thom province on Tuesday and arrested the owner on suspicion of pimping a 15-year-old girl, police said on Wednesday.
The raid was carried out in Stong district’s Kompong Chin Choeung commune after the girl’s mother filed a complaint with police on Monday following an unsuccessful attempt to make contact with her daughter, according to Bun Khy, chief of the provincial police’s judicial bureau.
“She told police that she knew her daughter was working there. So she went inside and asked for a meeting,” Mr. Khy said. “The owner didn’t allow her to meet her daughter, saying she had gone somewhere else.”
The mother told police she knew her daughter had been working at the bar since running away from home but became suspicious about the girl’s line of work when the owner refused to divulge the teenager’s whereabouts, he said.
During the raid on Tuesday evening, military police arrested the owner, 33-year-old Ban Sy, and sent both him and the 15-year-old to the provincial police headquarters for questioning, Mr. Khy said.
Mr. Sy later admitted that his four female employees used the bar to solicit johns and paid him a portion of their earnings from sex work carried out off the premises, but said he had assumed the 15-year-old was an adult, Mr. Khy added.
“He said, ‘I didn’t know she was underage. She looks mature.’ And he thought she was a consenting adult,” Mr. Khy said, adding that investigators did not believe Mr. Sy’s claims about the 15-year-old but had determined that the other three employees were 18 or older.
The 15-year-old told police that she had regularly provided sexual services to bar patrons off the premises, earning between $50 and $100 each time and paying 10 percent to Mr. Sy, the bureau chief said.
“She said she had run away from home because she was mad at her mother for getting a new husband,” he added.