Gov’t Declares Brothel Village Closed, Again

Svay Pak, the notorious brothel village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, was declared completely shut down, again, by police officials Tuesday after a three-month law enforcement campaign.

Many of the storefronts, once filled with young women, were shuttered Tuesday afternoon, with only a few small businesses remaining open and the streets mostly empty.

The campaign, which lasted from Aug 25 to Nov 25, involved 20 Interior Ministry, municipal, district, commune and local po­lice officers, said Un Sokunthea, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department.

The police operation follows several previous failed attempts to close the area, which for a long time has been a center for child prostitution

.“All brothel houses have completely closed their doors and ended their activities,” Un Sok­unthea said. “Some sex workers have entered the capital [to find work] and some have gone to Siem Reap province and Siha­noukville,” Un Sokunthea said.

Deputy municipal Governor On Neang, said he hopes to transform Svay Pak into an affluent suburban area where sex work would be stig­matized. During the three-month campaign, police estimated that more than 500 clients, mostly for­eign tourists, visited the area. More than 80 suspected pimps, drug offenders and “gangsters” were arrested during the campaign. “Our police…never extort money,” Un Sokunthea said..”

But a woman running one of the few remaining Svay Pak eateries said police demanded a few dollars in bribes from many locals and hundreds from tour­ists, even those who didn’t visit brothels.

Soeung Kamaryan, legal officer for the NGO Afesip, voiced concern over the withdrawal of Interior Ministry police officers be­cause local police may now allow the sex industry to resurface.

She cited reports that local pimps had been told to submit forms to authorities asking permission to reopen brothels and Vietnamese prostitutes had been asked for $20 to move back in.

Ly Lay, Russei Keo district police chief, said he has fired officials with ties to the local sex industry.


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