Magazine Vendors Applaud Porn Crackdown

Phnom Penh magazine vendors on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to confiscate pornographic publications from their shelves, which they said help encourage sex crimes.

Hun Sen on Tuesday ordered the Ministry of Information to in­val­idate the licenses of pornographic publications and to re­move them from  newsstands.

“It’s the right decision because it’s too open to sell these magazines,” said Street 51 vendor San Pi­sey, 19.

“It contributes to an increase in rapes,” she added. “I’m afraid that the men who read them will follow the magazines.”

The publications, with titles like “Tee­nage Stimulation” and “Roos­ter,” feature relatively tame erotic images but graphic written content.

Magazines did not provide contact details for publishers, and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith did not answer repeated phone calls on Wednesday.

“I don’t like [the magazines] even though I sell them,” said one vendor on Street 51, who asked not to be named.

“I don’t want my children to grow up [reading] this.”

Despite their moral stance on the issue, vendors said they carried the publications to make money. Several said they sold dozens of copies a month at a price of about 2,500 riel to 4,000 riel per copy.

But some voiced skepticism on Wednesday about whether Hun Sen will be able to ensure his order is followed.

“When [Hun Sen] did that be­fore with closing the brothels and karaoke [parlors] it didn’t work,” said Mu Sochua, former minister of women’s affairs. “Within 72 hours the brothels were changed into beer gardens” where sex re­mained for sale.

In December 2002, the Child Wel­fare Group, a collection of child rights NGOs, conducted a survey in Phnom Penh and three prov­inces on the availability of pornography. Fifty-one percent of minors approached said they had viewed pornography.

While welcoming the move to rein in pornography, rights groups warned on Wednes­day against further muzzling of the media.

Care must be taken “that legislation designed to protect minors is not misused to infringe on the right to free expression,” local rights group Licadho director Naly Pilorge said in a statement released Wednes­day.

 

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