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Police enforce vice ban

ROVING police squads have been deployed in the Tuol Kork red light district and other areas to stamp out prostitution in the capital.

The police crackdown has come after the Phnom Penh Municipality decided to outlaw prostitution with the deadline for the closure of brothels passing on Aug 30.

Inspector Pol Phie They of the Tuol Kork district police told the Post he has ordered 100 policemen to be deployed to crackdown on the brothels.

He said: "I think our crackdown on the prostitutes in Phnom Penh may be both good and bad because it is going to be done very quickly and very effectively."

The Inspector said that so far the police had arrested several sex workers who did not give up their jobs. He said they were subsequently released after being given some advice from the police.

"We have been warned to trail both brothel owners and sex workers if they still continue their business. But, in fact, the Ministry of Justice doesn't have the law to charge them.

"I think if they are alerted that the government has no law to charge them it may be difficult for us to crackdown on them."

The inspector said that many brothels had converted into coffee or Karaoke shops, but they could arrange sex for customers if needed. The crackdown has caused prostitutes to flee their former brothels and scatter through the city.

Brothel owner Sok Vanna, 34, said she had four girls working for her, and after the crackdown two girls returned to their families.

She said the other two girls, who had no families, had disappeared somewhere in Phnom Penh because they were too afraid to stay in Tuol Kork .

"I gave them 5,000 riel each and I think that they will come back. But I don't know what they do, how they eat or where they stay."

Vanna said in her opinion the government would be unable to shut down the brothels forever and that even under the former SOC regime where they imprisoned prostitutes it did not put a stop to the flesh market.

She said: "I have learned the government plans to force the Vietnamese people to leave our country.

"If the government does this... I would be happy because our girls find it very hard to compete with Ho Chi Minh's daughters [as prostitutes]."

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