Police on Tuesday arrested a suspected brothel owner and rescued seven women working in the brothel during a raid in Tuol Kok, officials said Wednesday.
Acting on a complaint from a neighbor, municipal police arrested suspected “mama-san” Lak Trie and are looking for her husband, said Meng Say, chief of the anti-trafficking police.
During the raid, the police also rescued seven Cambodian women over the age of 18 who allegedly were working in the brothel. The women were taken to the NGO Afesip, where they will receive support services such as psychological care and counseling, said a staff member at Afesip.
The women are not being detained against their will and are free to leave the NGO at any time, the Afesip staff member said.
“The girls are free to do what they want,” the Afesip staff member said, adding that the courts may need to speak to the women about the case.
The raid was staged after police received a tip from a neighbor, accusing the brothel owner and her husband of convincing her 14-year-old daughter to work at the brothel, Meng Say said. The suspects allegedly tried to entice the 14-year-old to work for them by giving her money, he said.
The girl, a student at Tuol Kok secondary school, ran away from home on Saturday and is suspected of being with Lak Trie’s husband, Meng Say, said. The daughter has not returned home, and the police are still looking for her.
This is the second brothel raid in Phnom Penh in the last two weeks. Last month, the Ministry of Interior and police conducted a major crackdown in the Svay Pak brothel district, arresting 13 accused human traffickers and rescuing 37 girls and women from Vietnam from the brothels.
During that raid, the police were working on evidence gathered from the US-based NGO International Justice Mission.
(Additional reporting by David Kihara)