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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - EU officials urge change of attitude to prostitution

EU officials urge change of attitude to prostitution

European Parliament delegates on a fact-finding mission to Cambodia on child sex crimes took aim at the Kingdom’s recently approved anti-trafficking law, saying that the issue of prostitution should be kept separate from the issue of human-trafficking and child sex exploitation.

“If I had my way or a magic wand, I would end prostitution,” said Baroness Sarah Ludford, a member of the delegation.

“But in reality, there will always be a demand from men to buy sex. What we can do is ensure that women are safe from being raped, robbed, exploited or enslaved,” she said.

The legislation, passed earlier this year with the support of several international agencies, has come under fire amid reports that it is being used by police to abuse and rob prostitutes.

Other rights groups and health agencies argue that the law has resulted in the mass closure of brothels, preventing HIV/Aids prevention and treatment programs from reaching those at most risk of catching and transmitting the virus.

The delegation, after meeting with child sex crimes victims, commended Cambodia’s efforts to arrest pedophiles, but said that more needed to be done to continue to erase the scourge of child sex.

“Police need to enforce the law and change their attitude to corruption,” Ludford told the Post on 22 July.

Bith Kimhong, director of the anti-trafficking department at the Ministry of Interior, said that the number of arrests of child sex offenders has increased due to the efforts made by the Cambodian government.

“In the first six month of 2008, 36 people were arrested over child abuse, of which four were foreigners. In 2007 only eight foreigners were arrested,” Bit Kimhong said during the meeting with the delegates.

“This increase in arrests reflects the government’s enforcement of the new law on trafficking,” Kimhong said.

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