Photographer's Note

Yesterday when I posted the first picture of Svay Pak with a quote from CNN, our photo-journalist Partha Sarathi was so kind to tell us his feeling, ”Good subjet but the CNN reports are little exaggerated. Its true that Cambodia is an underdevelopped country. Flesh trading is major trading, though it is a striking problem in enter south-east asia, the zone which was in the clutch of some western power. They are the main culprit who used the innocent people and taught the evil part of life. It is to be noted Prostitution is one of the primitive profession of our civilization and in western world its a profit earning business. Mr. Cooper trying to project Us government's good wishes as a PR person, but that country is the cat who hed bell first.”(sic)

Appreciated and respected his personal point of view, but I must continue my story about Svay Pak. This is the picture taken of the milestone to identify this location. This side facing east, I guess it says "Kampong Chnnang 79 KM"
On the other side facing west, it shows the distance to "Treng Kaghchovs 5 km”. In the past, Svay Pak has been nicknamed “K-11” (kilometer #11, measured from city hall). After the completion of Chruoy Changvar Bridge (or Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge), the milestones on National Road 5 have been numbered from this. As a result, this K-11 has been changed to “K-5”.

In the background is the tent set up for wedding ceremony and party, taking place on the road side. To organize such a wedding, they have to spend US$100.00 for tent and furniture rental, a 5-person table with food reserved for local police plus $50.00 cash for them to take home. Head of involved families also has to “invite” (with payment) the monks for religious ceremony, before expenditure for food and other items.

Why Svay Pak? — Because whether it’s a shame or a medal, the entire prostitute industry here is running by my brothers and sisters Vietnamese. For the video clip about this “kingdom”, please CLICK HERE or continue on the quoted text below.

Svay Pak, a dusty village 11 km north of Phnom Penh was a thriving village with 50 odd brothels and child prostitutes as young as 6 years old till last Wednesday when the police raided the village. The village which received at least 50 tourists every night, who paid a measly US$ 3 for sex with a child, and scores of locals is now a ghost town. No one was arrested although there were dozens of pimps and customers in the brothels at the time of the raid.

Phnom Penh police chief General Soun Chheangly said a decision was made to shut down Svay Pak because it's bad name that affects the Cambodia's cultural reputation. (as of 01-29-2003)

It took continuous campaigning by women's rights groups and the Mu Sochua, Cambodia's women's affairs minister, for more than 2 years and a high profile ASEAN meeting, for the Svay Pak raid to occur and the brothels to close down. Only a few of the child prostitutes released from the brothels have reached AFESIP and the Ministry of Social Welfare. The majority have been sent on to brothels in other tourist centres, including Siem Reap, the service town for the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex, and Sihanoukville, a popular beach resort in the south of the country. The police action had been widely advertised in advance.

It is no secret that the brothels in Cambodia flourish because of their friendly relations with influential officials in the Hun Sen government. Pimps are reported to imprison young children who are virgins and not put them to work until they've been presented to a series of bidders such as high-ranking military officers, politicians, businessmen and foreign tourists. Much of this lucrative industry is controlled by senior police and military officers, and successful arrests/prosecutions are rare. Evidence is mysteriously lost, brothels are tipped off before raids, and pimps slip their handcuffs on the way to court.

The young girls working in brothels like those in Svay Pak are, in effect, sex slaves; they receive no money, only food, and armed guards stop them running away.

Chantala, possibly 14, recounts that her a woman approached her aunt and promised to give her a job as a live-in cleaner at a shop in Phnom Penh. The shop turned out to be a brothel in Svay Pak. Her first customer she recounts was a Chinese man who beat her till she was unconscious because she refused to have sex with him. He then tore her clothes and raped her. She worked everyday from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. and still owed a huge sum to the brothel owner.

She was one day taken to a village outside Phnom Penh. When she arrived she found 10 men waiting to have sex with her. She had to have sex with all of them. She went to the same place many times after that.

Avy, 8-years-old, was sold into the sex trade after being raped by her stepfather and nine other men. She was hit across the face and given electric shocks when she refused to have sex with clients. When she grew sleepy after working long hours, the pimp thrust chillies in her eyes.

Chantala and Avy are two among the thousands of young children who are being ruthlessly violated every day of their precious lives. Being treated worse than slaves for the luxuries of influential politicians, the children in Cambodia's brothels hope that the international humanitarian community will come to their rescue.

(Source: Asia Child Rights)


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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