Police arrested the owner of a Phnom Penh massage parlor doubling as a brothel and rescued two teenage girls and five other young women from the business, authorities said on Tuesday.
The Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department arrested Lim Vinh, who ran the massage shop out of an apartment on Street 271, during a raid on Monday following an investigation, deputy director Ly Lai said.
“The man opened the massage shop, but used this location to provide sexual services,” Mr. Lai said. “We are now questioning the shop’s owner and the seven young girls.”
Two of the girls said they were 16 and 17, while the other five women gave ages between 18 and 22 years old. But Mr. Lai said he believed the girls were younger, and would verify their ages with their families.
“We think that the two girls are 14 and 15 years old because they look so young,” he said.
The women told police that Mr. Vinh, 61, offered sex with them to clients and kept the revenue, charges that could carry a seven- to 10-year prison sentence.
Questioning had yet to reveal how the women ended up in the parlor in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Loeu commune, Mr. Lai said, adding that many similar cases could be traced to family debts.
“Most parents of [such] girls take money in advance from shop owners and they are required to stay at the shop until they pay off the debt, including interest,” he said. “The girls are not held, but they are not able to leave the shop” for good until the debt is repaid.
Mr. Lai said the massage shop was shuttered on Monday evening and is now under the management of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
“We are now preparing a document to send to court tomorrow,” he said, adding that the seven female workers will be sent to the Phnom Penh municipal social affairs department today after authorities finish questioning them.