Child Pornography depicting children possibly as young as 7 years old is freely available at shops and stalls around Phnom Penh’s Psar Thmei, a two day investigation by the Cambodia Daily has found.
The VCDs, which include scenes of bondage and torture, are being sold for 50 cents uner such Khmer-language titles as “Luring Underage Child,” “Old Grandafther Forced Underage Child To Have Sex,”and “70-Year-Old Grandfather Rapes 0-Year Old Girl,”
At O’Russei market, two VCD vendors said they sold child pornography, while on Street 169 opposite BakTouk High School, two computer stalls offered child porn video footage downloads to mobile phones.
One of the VCDs purchased at the Phnom Penh CD shop opposite Phsar Thmei, which was apparetntly shot at the Svay Pak brothel village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, was handed over to anti-pedophile NGO International Justice Mission on Monday.
The footage depicts several very young girls with two Western men and includes scenes of sexual torture.
An IJM official who asked not to be named said the organization will assist Cambodian police in a subsequent investigation.
Keo Thea, deputy chief of the municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau, said Tuesday that he is aware of the footage being sold under the title “70-Year-Old Grandfather Rapes 9-Year-Old-Girl,”
The filed abuse ïs a case from about three or four years ago. We are doing the investigating, but the suspects didn’t return to the country,”Keo Thea.
‘The authorities used to crack down once, but they still sell it,” Keo Thea said of the city’s free-wheeling child porn business.
Police efforts to combat the trade in child porn are like “a dried fish trying to lay eggs,”he added.
Keo Thea said people who distribute and sell child pornography are only subject to a minor fine, the amount of which he could not remember.
“there is no law (against distributing child pornography),”he said. “But there is a subdecree, which has no jail term,”he added.
At Phnom PenhCD, where child porn VCDs are kept in stacks at the back of the shop, a staffer handed a reporter 10 different child porn titles including “Forced Sex” and “Sex Under 13.”
Muong Sokchea, 52, who identified herself as the shop’s owner, said Monday that she does not openly display the child porn for fear of the police.
Asked if she had any qualms about selling the footage of children sexually abused and tortured, she responded: “They’re not our nationality.”
A 30-year-old VCD vendor at a stall on the pavment opposite Phsar Thmei had a staggering range of child porn VCDs for sale Monday which appeared to feature Thai and Chinese children.
She refused to give her name, but she said she has no scruples about selling it because so many other people are doing the same, and because the abused children were not Cambodians.
Ëveryone sells it,”she said.’They are not Khmer children. They are Vietnamese.”
Both foreigners and Cambodians but the VCDs, she said. Ït is illegal, but it is sold everywhere,”she added.
Ros Sothy, a police officers standing two meters from the woman’s stall, said he patrols the area around Phsar Thmei and was unaware of the thriving child pornography market on his beat.
Opposite Baktouk high School, a vendor who downloads ring tunes and graphics to mobile phones, also provided child porn footage to a reporter.
He said he didn’t know the origin of the footage, but that most of his customers are Cambodia.
Although he makes money from the footage, 25 cents for each download, he said he does not approve of pedophilia.
Ït is bad to watch, it is a crime against children,” he admitted.
Mu Sochua, former minister of women’s affairs and current SRP secretary-general, said the trade in child porn widespread,
“This business of making money from child pornography is spreading throughout the country even to small distant remote villages,”she said Monday.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant-General Khieu Sopheak said he was aware of the distribution of child pornography and that police are doing their best to shut down the vendors.
Ït is illegal and it will be punished,”he said. “They are selling these kinds of VCDs in secret,”he said.
In a speech to mar International Children’s Day on June 1, 2002, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia was one of the first 10 countries to ratify the UN convention on child trafficking, sexual exploitation, prostitution and the distribution of child pornography,
Ït is every Cambodian’s obligationto help make our beloved country a better place for children – a place where every child can grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity,” he said.
Information Minister and Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith is illegal and must be confiscated. He referred reporters to the Minisryt of Culture.
Minister of Culture Prince Sisowath Panara Sereyvuth could not be contacted for comment.