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Facebook: the dawn of Cambodia's cyber-sexy

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Facebook has become a popular social media site for young people to share photos without embarrassment, in order to flaunt their style and attract attention.

Hot photos, however, have also provoked stern words of warning from parents and criticism that the activity extends to pornography.

Sok Jesmine, 27, a ballet dancer, loves to take sexy photos in various poses and outfits that reveal her naval and upper breasts. She shares them on Facebook, where they get a lot of comments from friends.

“I enjoy doing it because I want to have freedom of showing my beauty to the others. I don’t care about the criticism.” Jesmine says. “I prefer showing to hiding because everyone loves  [it].”

However, her mother – Kim Arn, 50 – doesn’t like to see Jesmine looking too sexy; although, she is pleased to see her look modern and beautiful.

Phin Samnang, 20, a student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, says that she loves taking photos in sexy or hot styles, and sharing them with her friends on Facebook.

“In this era, everyone wants to look sexy. But I don’t share any naked pictures,” she says.

Soum Sothon, 25, a student at Human Resource University, says that there are a lot of pornographic pictures or photos that have been shared on his wall or timeline.

“I saw nude women with various styles,” he says. “I love to see those photos because I am a man.”

It’s not just women who share these photos, but also men. San Setpheap, 24, a designer at a private company, says he likes taking pictures with his shirt-off or showing his chest – it’s an art, he says.

“These pictures are artistic. I feel very happy when someone admires my strange style of photo taking,” he says. “I don’t feel embarrassed because it is simple for me: I am an artist.”

Neang Saralaya, 21, a student at National University of Management says that she does not like men or women who take photos in a sexy or hot ways.

"It may be he or she wants to attract the others,” she says. “However, some photos which are posted on Facebook are too pornographic.”

It’s not illegal to share naked photos, but sharing pornographic photos of children younger than 15 is punishable up to one year, according to Sok Sam Oeun, director of Amrin Law and Consultants Group.

“If we take illegally nude or private photos of someone, we will be punished in jail from a month up to one year with a fine,” he says.

He adds that if Facebook users are uncomfortable with their friends’ actions, they can block or remove friends, or report them for spam.

In response to this, Yim Nimola, executive director of Khmer Women’s Voice Centre says, "The wide-spread use of pornographic and cruel photos on Facebook is caused by the deceleration of social morality,” she says. “In order to make a change, we have to educate youths to be good citizens right from the beginning of their education. The youths share only useful information, which is not harmful to others. Parents should pay much more attention.”

Khieu Kanharith, Minister for Information, says that the Ministry can do nothing about sexy, hot and pornographic photos on Facebook: if the pornographic pictures are printed in newspaper, the Ministry will take action. Facebook is out of their control.

“We cannot take any action, otherwise there will be reaction that our action is a kind of censorship and limitation of freedom of expression,” he says.

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