Cambodian Police Abuse Sex Workers

Cambodian police and social workers have beat, extorted and raped sex workers after taking them into their custody, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, adding foreign governments could do more to stop such abuse.

‘From beginning to end, those people who should really be protecting sex workers from violence and other abuses are in fact the ones who are harming them,’ Elaine Pearson, acting director of Asia Human Rights Watch, told a news conference.

Quoting victims, the rights group said in a report that police often abused sex workers arrested during regular sweeps of the streets and parks in the capital, Phnom Penh, following the enactment of an anti-human-trafficking law in 2008.

It called on the government to close down certain detention centres where drug users, beggars, street children, homeless people and sex workers had all been illegally detained.

And it urged foreign donors to review funding to the police and Social Affairs Ministry.

‘Donors should not spend their money on abusive officials but instead take steps that will promote accountability from the Cambodian government,’ Ms Pearson said.


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