Brothels and sex workers are common sights. Many young people appear to have active sex lives and begin having sex at a relatively young age. Some men visit prostitutes before returning home to their wives.. Condoms are called "Number One" after the best-selling brand. In the early s, authorities warned teenagers not to embrace or have sex in public. Those who were caught had to endure morality education and swear to never do it again. A local official said: We only round them up to educate them not to conduct immoral activities.
Having sex with a virgin is greatly prized in Cambodia. Many Cambodian men believe that deflowering a virging will bring good luck, prolong life and eliminate any chance of getting AIDS.
Young women are expected to be virgins when the marry. A boy on the other hand is always percent golden. Under the Khmer Rouge. Homosexuals in Cambodia Gay rights is not a major issue in Cambodia.
Same-sex civil unions are not legally recognized, but many marriages in Cambodia are common law rather than officially registered. Cambodian society, as in neighboring Thailand, is generally tolerant of homosexuality. Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, who died in October , caused a stir in when he wrote on his website that he supported the right of gay couples to marry.
Sihanouk said he was inspired to state his views after watching news reports about gay marriage in San Francisco. The late king said that as a "liberal democracy," Cambodia should allow "marriage between man and man Gays and lesbians would not exist if God did not create them," wrote Sihanouk, who abdicated in favor of his son later that year. Khav Sokha, a former motor-taxi driver turned medicine woman, married her female lover in Phnom Penh. Sokha dresses and speaks like a man and wants her partner to be called her "my husband.
I'm quite disappointed,'' Hun Sen said. He made the rare revelation about his closely guarded family life during a public speech at a student graduation ceremony. Hun Sen said he plans to file a civil court case to disown his adopted daughter so that she cannot claim any inheritance from his family. However, he appealed to society to show respect for gay people, saying "Most of them are good people and are not doing alcohol, drugs or racing vehicles. He said he had heard requests from gay Cambodians that they be able to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as others.
Associated Press, December 11, ] Gay rights is not a major issue in Cambodia, and Hun Sen seemed to have been inspired by discussions of the subject on International Human Rights Day on Monday, including on local television.
Prostitution in Cambodia There were an estimated 55, prostitutes in Cambodia, with 10, to 15, in Phnom Penh in the early s. Prostitutes can be found all over: Some prostitutes are brought in from Vietnam or Laos but most are Cambodians.
Although there are lot of foreign men running around. Most of the customers are Cambodians. Cambodian women also work as prostitutes in other countries, namely Thailand and Vietnam. Reporting from Phnom Penh in , Nicholas D. It's like an aquarium: The customer orders a girl by number, and the manager delivers her a moment later to a private room.
A security goon made it clear that photos were out of the question - but a pimp did politely serve me a cup of tea. Mariane Pearl wrote in Glamour: Such brutality is fallout from decades of war, totalitarianism and genocide.
Children here are bought and sold into sexual slavery, sometimes by their own parents, for tiny sums of money. By one estimate a quarter of all the foreign visitors to Cambodia in the early s were sex tourists. The Internet is used as a networking service by foreign men to gain access. The street is lively in unexpected ways. There are stalls selling mangos and kebabs, and naked infants are playing.
Yet the atmosphere feels dangerous. Adding to the bizarre tableau, a skinny man approaches a girl in a pleated skirt, and a mysterious exchange occurs: He slaps her, and she gives him a single bill.
I am standing outside a barrack built of sticks that seems on the verge of collapse, when a door opens to reveal an unlikely young woman. Haggard from a drunken sleep, she is still wearing bright-red lipstick from the night before and carries an odor of sweat, sperm and filth. Her expression is beyond hatred or submission. I peer into her room, a windowless chamber barely big enough to fit a mattress. The dirt floor is covered with cigarette butts, used condoms and Freedent gum wrappers.
There is no furniture aside from her bed—not even a little box where a girl might hide her treasures. A social worker, Chantha Chhim, asks what happened. The girl points to a metal stool and answers in Khmer, the national language. The girl also has rows of parallel scars on the inside of her arm.
When girls get high, she explains, they sometimes engage in self-mutilation. As we leave, the girls give us faint, almost apologetic smiles. They service about 15 clients a night, mostly migrant laborers.
Her mother is blind, her father is frail, and they depend on her — the only surviving child — for food. But the brothel manager beat Kosal until she capitulated.
But it appears that in much of Asia, the entry into prostitution is overwhelmingly unwilling and in any case, the girls are typically too young to give consent. Then, once they have been stigmatized and have lost hope of returning to their families and villages — and in some cases become addicted to drugs — they often accept their lot and continue without coercion.
As for Kosal, she did manage to escape. Last month she and another young woman fled their brothel in the middle of the night and set off to walk back to Cambodia. Kosal had begun suffering from abdominal pains while at the brothel, and by the time she returned to Cambodia she was severely ill.
Kosal was too mortified to tell me the ailment, but her cousin said that it was a gynecological problem arising from sexual abuse. The aunt, Khlat Dam, says: Policemen walk up to the brothels and openly collect envelopes, presumably with cash in them, from primps and brothel owners.
Much of the sex trade is believed to be controlled by politicians and high-ranking military officers. Reporting from Phnom Penh in ,Nicholas D. But the next day, the trafficking tycoons turned the tables and raided the shelter. About 30 raiders, some wearing military clothing and at least one driving a car with military license plates, broke down the shelter gate, beat up one woman on the staff and took all the girls back to the brothel.
To top it off, Cambodia's top police official reprimanded the female officer who had ordered the raid on the Chai Hour II and even briefly suspended her from her post. But dozens of others, she says, wanted to stay in the shelter but were forced back anyway. Embassy for a protest against Western interference.