Prostitutes and Pimps Relocated From Park

Tonle Bassac commune police have emptied the park opposite Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument of prostitutes and pimps over the past two months, sex workers and police said this week.

Commune Police Chief Uch Sakhun said Wednesday that the sex workers were driven from the park, which is located across the street from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house, because they had peddled their services too openly.

“People didn’t want to sit in the park [before] because they were afraid that other people would regard them as prostitutes. But now there are a lot of people who come to sit,” Uch Sakhun said.

He also said the prostitutes had drawn criminals to the park, where violent robberies are increasing.

Srey Touch, 21, was one of those forced to move her street-walking business from the park to a corner on Street 63.

“The police didn’t tell me why they arrested me, but I knew it was because we stood wherever we wanted along the road,” she said.

Srey Touch also said she was glad to be out of the park because gangsters were forcing sex workers to lure customers for them to beat and rob.

She and other girls said Tues­day that there was another reason to be glad for the eviction: Police extortion. Police regularly shook down prostitutes for whatever small sums they stashed on their persons, the women said.

Trea Pov, 25, used to sell oranges across from Hun Sen’s house. For her and other women selling oranges in the park, a

500 riel sale meant that a customer could fondle their bodies freely while eating an orange.

Trea Pov said police had beaten her three times and taken money from her regularly before she left the park across from the Indepen­dence Monument.

“They searched everywhere on my body and took the money,” she said.

Now she and her colleagues work around the corner, in the park across from the National Assembly.

Police Chief Uch Sakhun denied officers mistreated women in the park. “We only educate them to not come back,” he said.





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