POLICE in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Wednesday raided a coffee shop in Srak Chork commune suspected of doubling as a brothel, arresting the owner, three Vietnamese women believed to have been working as prostitutes and four male customers, as part of a continued crackdown on vice in the capital.
Commune police Chief Touch Sarin said his officers had collaborated with district police before carrying out the raid, which took place in the afternoon. He said the owner and the three suspected prostitutes were being held at the district police station, but that the four men had been released Wednesday evening.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has issued multiple calls for officials to raid venues suspected of permitting gambling, drug use and prostitution this year, saying the crackdown should be ongoing and likening it at one point to “drizzling rain”.
Though he could not provide official statistics, Touch Sarin said “multiple raids” had taken place recently in his commune alone. “We will always crack down on these private brothels like drizzling rain, and we have operated multiple raids on these illegal places,” he said. “We have seen that it has been reduced, while legitimate massage parlours and coffee shops still remain open for business.”
Em Saroeun, deputy district police chief, said the three alleged prostitutes and the shop’s female owner were still in detention and would soon be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for further questioning.
Yin Chanthy, one of the four detained customers, accused police of being overzealous and denied any involvement in the purchase of prostitution.
“I didn’t come here to have sex with the prostitutes,” he said. “I really didn’t know it was a brothel. I just came here to find shelter from the heavy rain and to have coffee with three other men.”