Vendors Wait For Action on Porn Decree

Standing in a Tuol Tumpong market stall Tuesday perusing video CDs with titles like “Size Matters #1,” “15 Blessings of Sin,” and “Skin II,” a customer lamented a government decree—to take effect today—banning his favorite movies.

“I don’t know why they want to shut down these films. They are educational,” he said, adding that he watches one every other day.

The man also said he doubts the police will be able to enforce the ban on sexually explicit material, passed six months ago by the Council of Ministers.

Phnom Penh’s purveyors of pornographic VCD and video cassettes are now waiting to see how vigorously authorities will enforce the ban.

Trade in pornographic movies was brisk Tuesday afternoon at Tuol Tumpong market, where the owners of five large VCD stalls said they were unaware the deadline had arrived for them to rid their inventories of pornography.

They said they are being unfairly targeted by authorities, while the producers and consumers of pornographic material will not suffer from the government order.

Stall owners in Phsar Thmei said also that they have not yet been notified by authorities and, like their counterparts in Tuol Tumpong market, will wait and see if the police are serious about outlawing the explicit material.

Council of Minister Spokesman Khieu Thavika said in August that violators would face fines of between $52 and $526.

Ten Borany, chief of minor crime at the Interior Ministry, said Tuesday he had not been ordered to implement the sub decree but was notified many months ago to ban the sale of sex movies.

One Tuol Tumpong vendor said she will keep her stock of VCDs out of the way in case police make a raid today.

“I keep the [videos] covered with a cloth because the pictures on the front of their covers are very ugly,” she said. “But, if I do not sell them how can I earn money for my living conditions.”

She said pornographic movies are her best sellers.

Rather than arresting small stall owners who sell the material, she said, police and higher authorities should spend more energy on preventing the smuggling of pornographic VCDs from abroad and seeking the middlemen who mass produce them in Phnom Penh.

A second stall owner at Tuol Tumpong market, who would only give her name as Ami, said she doubted the police will enforce the ban at the market because it is mainly frequented by foreigners, many of whom like to buy pornography.

“Nothing ever happens at this market because it if for tourism and foreigners. It will only happen in Phsar Thmei. They raid there every year and confiscate things,” said Ami, who is 19.

Ami, a first year student at Phnom Penh University, also said if the government is serious about stopping pornography sales, it should arrest the buyers and those who smuggle the material into Cambodia.

“We are the sellers. We only do this for money,” Ami said, adding that closing karaoke parlors and video game arcades near schools would have a better impact on Cambodian morals.

“Now the real problem is the young boys who just go to karaoke after school and like to play games,” she said. “They should shut these down instead.”

A 22-year-old university student buying pornography with his friends at the market said an age limit should be put in place instead of a ban.

“If the sellers only sold to those over 18 years it would not be a problem,” the student said. “But when they sell it to young boys it is a problem.”

Some vendors said the police ban would have little affect on their business. Because so many stalls sell pornographic movies, they said, it business has dropped off significantly.

The owner of CD World on Sihanouk Boulevard, one of the city’s largest outlets for VCD movies and music CDs, said Daun Penh district authorities called a number of VCD shop owners to a meeting last month. District officials told them pornographic movies must be off the shelves by Thursday.

While adult movies account for 20 percent of total sales at CD World, the owner, who asked not to be named, said he will comply with the ban.

“I’m not sure what to do with the stock,” he said. “But it is no problem. If people do not have these films to watch, they will watch something else.”

 

 

 

 

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