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In an information sheet released last month based on interviews with some sex workers in Phnom Penh, WNU states that street workers reported being arrested eight to nine times per year, on average. Contacted on Monday, Daun Penh district governor Kouch Chamroeun angrily denied that police in his jurisdiction abused sex workers during regular street sweeps also targeting vagrants and drug addicts, but said that if any of the accusations could be proven, offending officers would be punished.
Chamroeun added that because offering sexual services in public violated Article 24 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, police had every right to arrest street workers. Rather than apprehend and charge sex workers, however, police almost always remand them to Prey Speu—officially called the Pur Senchey Vocational Training Center, despite offering no vocational training—where staffers have long been accused of committing sexual and physical abuse against detainees.
And because sex workers held at Prey Speu have not received due process, nor faced prosecution in court, their detention is unlawful, according to Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho.
Other advocates pointed out that corruption and fear of authority would make the prospect of filing suit against officers exceedingly daunting. Shehata, victims are also afraid to gather in protest and file group complaints. Shehata said during an interview in December. A year-old sex worker from Prey Veng province who alternately seeks out customers on the riverside, near Wat Phnom and across the street from the Hotel Cambodiana, said she had experienced sexual abuse at the hands of clients, and physical abuse by police.
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