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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - First lady rails against rise of racy images and fashion

First lady rails against rise of racy images and fashion

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090218_04.jpg

Latest bout fits into Bun Rany's larger multi-front crusade against elements she says degrade country's social mores and popularise bad behaviour. 

Photo by:

TRACEY SHELTON

A teenager reads a magazine at a news stand in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. The prime minister's wife, Bun Rany, has lashed out at magazines running ‘pornographic' photos of women in ‘sexy' clothes, saying it damages morality.  

FIRST lady Bun Rany on Monday railed against the proliferation of racy images of women and blamed the Ministry of Information for failing to stamp them out. 

"The Ministry of Information has to close magazines that have pornography in order to avoid letting them have a bad impact on readers," she said at the annual meeting of the National Committee on the Promotion of Morality, Women and Family Values in Phnom Penh.

"If we all cooperate, we can reduce problems in our country such as rape and banditry."

Bun Rany, who is head of the Red Cross in Cambodia, also said film stars and singers dressed in revealing clothing were encouraging youth to don inappropriate fashion.

In particular, the first lady blamed the Ministry of Information for not enforcing laws prohibiting the publication of pornographic images.  

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said his office has previously ordered certain publications to stop publishing "sexy" pictures, but one magazine had ignored the order.

He had shied away from a strong crackdown in the past, however, since it would unfairly stunt the magazine's business prospects, he said.

"We have not fined them because we understand they want to make good business, and using sexy pictures helps them do that," he said. 

"But they are overdoing it, so now we have to take action."

According to Sy Define, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, business interests should not come at the expense of moral standards.

"Some businesses only care about their profile and don't care about the social impact of what they do," she said. "So the Ministry of Information needs to control them and press them harder so they are afraid."

A determined fight

Bun Rany has long crusaded against images, lyrics, health programs, technology and individuals that, she says, compromise the social mores of the Kingdom.

In December of last year, she warned HIV/Aids campaigners that distributing free condoms may stimulate the nation's sexual appetite,

claiming traditional moral practices, such as abstaining from sex until marriage, are more useful tools in the global fight against Aids.

She called for a ban in February 2008 on a song titled "Give Me a Portion of Your Heart", which referred to an adulterous relationship, on TV stations and urged Phnom Penh authorities to inspect nightclubs with reputations for violence and escort services.

In 2006, she spearheaded an effort among the wives of senior officials to ban video phones, citing concerns the video technology would be used to send pornography.

That year she also had a female presenter taken off the Cambodian Television Network for wearing a backless dress.

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