Fewer Racers Visit Brothels Visits Down Thbrothels

Fewer boat racers visited brothels during the Water Festival this year, local prostitutes said Mon­day.

“I don’t know why fewer boat racers came to have sex at my brothel this year,” said one prostitute, standing in front of one of the few Tuol Kok district brothels remaining after several years of police crack downs and local development. “Last year, there were a lot of boat racers.”

Another prostitute complained that some boat racers were serviced for long periods and then didn’t pay. “The boat racers, especially the older ones, came to have sex and then didn’t offer money, and threatened to beat me,” she said, adding that her brothel charged 5,000 riel per intercourse.

Tuol Kok district police Chief Hout Chanyarann assured that no brothels operated in his district during the Water Festival. “We have shut down all the brothels in my district,” he said.

This year, 23,630 boat racers com­peted in the festival, all of whom were banned from brothels, said Chea Kean, secretary-general of the Permanent Organizing Commission for National and International Cere­monies.

Municipal Cabinet Chief Mann Chhoeun said last week that brothels would be allowed to remain open, in contrast to previous years when they were ordered shut. NGOs had urged officials to focus more on education efforts and handing out condoms, he said.

More than 1,500 National AIDS Authority volunteers handed out 200,000 condoms and thousands of educational pamphlets over the weekend, along with educational materials in 10 provinces.

“A lot of boat racers and visitors went to the brothels,” said authority Secretary-General Tia Phalla. Education programs and condom distribution could mean there were fewer cases of HIV transmission during the festival than in previous festivals, he said.

He said that fear is an effective de­terrent, as in previous years many boat racers became infected with HIV, developed AIDS and died. Twenty million condoms were used in Cambodia last year  and 60,000 during the festival, in­cluding the risky use of two condoms at once which increases the likelihood of both tearing, he said.


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