In September 1999 two 13-yearolds and a twelve-year-old boy gagged a seven-year-old
girl, tied her hands to a piece of wood, then tied her legs apart and repeatedly
The boys modeled their crime on a pornographic video they had watched in a local
video bar. The incident, and others like it, prompted a study into the accessibility
of pornography by the Child Welfare Group, a network of 30 NGOs.
Glenn Miles of NGO Tearfund, and a steering committee member for the research, said
their study did not draw a causal link between viewing pornography and engaging in
sex crimes, but it did show that pornographic material was widely available to young
Steering committee member, Naly Pilorge of Licadho, described the research as a first
"The idea was to have a small look at what's happening and it's recommended
that from that there'll be some more research," she said.
The evidence garnered so far indicated that access, especially for adolescent boys
in Phnom Penh, is high. Researchers found just over half of all minors had viewed
pornography, but among boys that figure was much higher at 62 percent compared to
39 percent of girls.
Minors in the capital were twice as likely to have viewed and bought pornography
as their peers in Kampong Som, Siem Reap or Kampong Cham.
The researchers interviewed 677 minors in Phnom Penh and three provinces, and surveyed
more than 230 vendors including news stands, coffee shops and market stalls. Nearly
70 percent of vendors in Phnom Penh had pornography available, while half displayed
it openly. That, the report noted, is despite the fact that showing pornographic
videos is illegal.
"[Interviewees] say coffee-shop owners are aware that what they do is illegal,
and often have two TVs to disguise their activities, one that can be seen from the
street showing "normal" films and one showing pornography," the briefing
While soft porn was widely available, the researchers were especially worried that
violent porn was on sale at 35 percent of outlets in Phnom Penh, and that 15 percent
of vendors were selling child porn. Pilorge said it was unclear if any of the child
porn had been produced locally.
"We need to investigate more closely if Cambodian children are being used in
production, and if children are being exposed to this material," she said.
In addition to traditional venues, porn was found to have been viewed by a small
number of respondents on the internet and exchanged on CD-ROMs and via mobile phones.
The two main locations for viewing pornography are coffee shops and at home.
The report recommends strengthening the legal restrictions on making porn available
to minors, and recommends "serious efforts" to eradicate child porn.