Cambodia’s ‘sexy’ clothing ban could criminalise face masks, speaking loudly and homelessness too

Wide-ranging draft legislation has been flagged by 65 civil society groups for its potential to be used against vulnerable groups in violation of their rights.

When Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen complained in February about online sellers posing in “sexy” clothing to stimulate demand for their wares, Ven Rachna – whose low-cut blouses and lingerie photos had made her a successful Facebook entrepreneur – was summoned to her local police station.

She was told that her clothing choices had been deemed harmful to Cambodian traditions and was ordered to refrain from sharing any further photos or videos of herself wearing such revealing outfits.

A video posted to Facebook by the police shows her apologising for her actions, yet according to officers this did not deter Rachna, who was arrested soon afterwards in response to a new Facebook post. Within days, she had been charged with offences related to pornography by a court in Phnom Penh and was jailed for six months, though she served only two of these before being released.

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