No stranger to the law

Leakhena’s arrest is common enough. Wat Phnom, well-known as a place men go to pay for sex, is a frequent – and sometimes the only – stop on police “roundups” that often end in detention.

In the latest street sweep earlier this month, 15 sex workers were picked up in the area.

Of the five female sex workers interviewed this week by Post Weekend, all had been detained and none was informed of their accused crime.

Both the director of the city’s Department of Social Affairs, which runs Prey Speu, and the centre’s chief declined to comment on the current number of sex workers or others currently detained there.

Public solicitation of sex is illegal in Cambodia, as is profiting from prostitution, recruiting someone into the trade, acting as an intermediary or interfering with “prevention” (all defined as “procurement”). The act of buying sex is not.

In Cambodia, it is most often sex workers – not their clients – who have suffered at the hands of the authorities.

Phnom Penh sex workers stuck between Prey Speu and the street

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