Court Tries Cafe Owners for Pimping Waitresses

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday heard the case of three Vietnamese women who allegedly prostituted their waitresses to customers at the coffee shop they ran in Tuol Kok district’s Boeng Kak I commune.

Nguyen Thi Huyen, 32; Li Chin May, 39; and Nguyen Thi Phuong, 70, were arrested in February after police seized boxes of condoms at the coffee shop as evidence of procurement—a tactic banned by the government in 1999, as it discourages the use of contraceptives and contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Ms. Huyen’s lawyer, Chan Reasey Pheak, argued during the trial that only the condoms were being used as evidence.

“All the condoms were still in their boxes,” Ms. Reasey Pheak said, adding that the waitresses “did not have sex in the coffee shop, but had sex in a building next door.”

Deputy prosecutor Hor Lina countered that police also witnessed three waitresses having sex inside the coffee shop. Mr. Lina did not call any police officers as witnesses, however.

“Even if they [the waitresses] did not have sex at the coffee shop, the suspects still got money from them,” he said, adding that the waitresses were not paid a normal salary, living only off what they made from having sex with clients.

Ms. May, the owner of the coffee shop, admitted that three of her waitresses had been having sex for money, and even gave her a cut of their earnings, but denied that any part of the transactions took place inside the building.

“I do not know where the condoms in the coffee shop came from,” she said.

“I usually got 5,000 riel [$1.25] a few times a day from a girl after she had sex. I do not know where they had sex, but it wasn’t in my coffee shop.”

Judge Top Chhun Heng said a verdict will be delivered on October 3.

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