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Female Sex Workers in Cambodia Suffer from Members of the Authorities Who Use the Opportunity of Illegal Arrests to Abuse Them

By: The Mirror Posted: July-22-2010 in
The Mirror

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“The acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Ms. Elaine Pearson, said at the release of a 76-page Human Rights Watch report to the national and international press on 20 July 2010, ‘It is known since a long that some police and other authorities of Cambodia detain sex workers illegally, beat them and rape them, and steal money and other property they have with them.’

“Ms. Elaine Pearson added, ‘Police arrests sex workers as part of their regular raids in streets and parks in Phnom Penh. Using these opportunities, there is active violence, and other kinds of abuses happened during such actions to arrest and collect sex workers by members of the district police and by other authorities at specific times, sometimes targeting only sex workers to arrest them, and at other occasions arresting sex workers together with other groups of citizens that are considered as “garbage of society” found living on the streets.’ Ms. Elaine Person added, ‘Some members of the police abuse sex workers without ever receiving any punishment, and police punch them, beat them with rattan sticks, batons, and electric shock batons. In some cases, sex workers have been raped by police while they were in detention, and all sex workers have to pay bribes, or their money was simply stolen by police.’

“She went on to say, ‘In an atmosphere, where police who committed abuses do not receive any punishments, the Cambodian government has to recognize that not to initiate any criminal procedures against such activities is to allow human rights abuses to continue.’ She added that the Cambodian government should close social rehabilitation centers where sex workers are illegally detained, and to completely close the drug rehabilitation centers soon [which are the subject of similar allegations], as well as to stop all violence against sex workers.

“In addition, the 76-page report of Human Rights Watch titled ‘Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia’ released to journalists on 20 July 2010, says that in Phnom Penh, police had sent sex workers to a Phnom Penh social rehabilitation center and then to non-government organizations or to a social rehabilitation center of the Prey Speu authorities. The conditions at Prey Speu are like hell, as sex workers who had been sent there told Human Rights Watch that they were allowed to get out of their rooms only twice a day to bath, using water from a dirty pond or to go to the toilet, followed by a guard.

“In addition, sex workers, beggars, drug abusers, street children, and homeless people also sent to the Prey Speu center have suffered from beatings, rape, and other mistreatments. The report adds that at least three persons had been beaten to death at the Prey Speu center between 2006 and 2008.

“Along with the demand and request to the Cambodian government to stop all violence against sex workers and to completely close any center that detains sex workers illegally and is using violence. Human Rights Watch asked the donors of Cambodia that support the efforts against human trafficking and training for police, especially the USA, Australia, Japan, the European Union, and the United Nations, to reconsider their funding to police institution and to the Ministry of Social Affairs, until an independent investigation about the alleged abuses is conducted, until the persons responsible for the abuses are brought to justice, and until the Prey Speu social rehabilitation center is completely shut down.

“Ms. Elaine said that the donors should not spend their money to train abusive officials, but should rather take steps to promote responsible actions from the Cambodian government. Also, the report of Human Rights Watch suggests the creation of a special committee to thoroughly and independently conduct investigations on violence and the extortion of money by law enforcement officials, by security guards working in the parks, and by staff or volunteers of municipal social rehabilitation centers; this committee should have representatives from the government who are capable and respectful, as well as from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Department of Social Affairs, UN agencies, non-government organizations, and representatives of sex workers. This committee should be created soon and should have the authority to summon witnesses and to produce public reports.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3937, 21.7.2010

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674 - Wednesday, 21.7.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror

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