The crackdown on the city’s sex trade continued this week with police and court officials shutting down a Phnom Penh massage parlor on Oct 22, detaining 46 women, four male employees and the business’s 26-year-old owner, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Hea Sopheak said.
Condoms were found in the rooms at the Heaven Massage Service in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district, said Urm Rathana, chief of the municipal anti-human trafficking police.
The 46 women, aged between 17 and 30-years-old, were handed over to the municipal social affairs department for “re-education” on Thursday and the men were sent to the court Oct 24, Urm Rathana said by telephone.
However, contacted on Oct 24, Khin Trin, director of the municipal social welfare department, said that police only gave him custody of 13 women at about 3 pm on Thursday.
Of the 13, one woman was sent to the NGO Afesip, and four were sent to the NGO World Hope. The remaining eight were supposed to go to the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, but they escaped with the assistance of a group of threatening men who claimed to be relatives, Khin Trin maintained.
“A group of men came and opened the [vehicle] door and said, threatening, that I am ‘not allowed to take my cousin to any silly organization’ and then all the girls ran out of my car,” Khin Trin said. “I was so afraid that I could not do anything. I just wanted my safety.”
Contacted later on Oct 24 and asked about the discrepancy between the reported number of women sent by the police to the municipal social affairs department and the later incident involving the eight women, Urm Rathana said he was too busy to comment.