Amid a police crackdown on brothels, an increasing number of massage and karaoke parlors are springing up around Siem Reap, offering sex on the side, police and NGO workers said Sunday.
“The sex industry is really active in this provincial town,” said Chap Muom, investigating and monitoring chief of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center in Siem Reap. “They use massage and karaoke parlors to serve sex services.”
Sun Bunthorng, chief of Siem Reap province’s anti-human trafficking bureau, said three brothels masquerading as massage parlors have been shut down this year and 17 workers rescued.
Also, last week, three suspected pimps were arrested and sent to Siem Reap provincial court on charges of sexual exploitation, including a 31-year-old Vietnamese woman, who allegedly ran a brothel out of her Svay Dangkum commune home in Siem Reap district, Sun Bunthorng said.
“We plan to raid massage parlors to rescue all the victims this year, and we expect the sex industry will be eliminated in my province,” he said.
Sun Bunthorng said the number of massage and karaoke parlors started increasing in early 2004 as a result of an increased influx of tourists. At that time, there were fewer than 20 such parlors.
Now, there are 26 massage and 44 karaoke parlors in Siem Reap province, most of which are operating illegally, he said.
Some of the sex workers rescued claim to have been trafficked into the country, according to Chap Muom.
“Some victims said they were trafficked from Vietnam to Phnom Penh and then they were moved to work in Siem Reap,” he said. “Others claim they were trafficked directly from Vietnam to Siem Reap province.”
Chap Muom said residents are also concerned by the growing sex industry in the province.
“Siem Reap residents are very concerned about the increased sex industry,” he said. “We have been working hard with police to patrol each massage and karaoke parlor every day.”