Police Raid Massage Parlor, Arrest Owners

The husband and wife owners of a Phnom Penh massage parlor were arrested during a raid on Monday night for allegedly running the establishment as a brothel, police said on Tuesday.

The couple was arrested after police found eight women inside the Samnang La’or massage parlor and both used and unused condoms around the premises, according to Phorn Oun, the police chief of Tumnop Toek commune in Chamkar Mon district.

Police tape hangs across the door of the Samnang La'or massage parlor on Street 430 in Phnom Penh's Chamkar Mon district on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Police tape hangs across the door of the Samnang La’or massage parlor on Street 430 in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Oun said the two owners, whom he declined to name, were detained overnight by municipal anti-trafficking police and questioned on Tuesday, while the women working in the parlor were also briefly detained before being sent to the municipal social affairs department.

“Ten people have been detained,” Mr. Oun said. “One man and woman are a couple—they are the owners of the parlor—while the rest, eight girls, are victims.”

He said the women who had been working in the parlor were all over the age of 20 but declined to elaborate on the details of the case.

Sorn Sophal, director of the social affairs department, said all eight women had been sent to shelters run by Agape International Missions and the Women’s Network for Unity.

Deputy municipal prosecutor Kong Samsareth, who accompanied police on the raid, said the operation was conducted because officers suspected that one of the women working there was underage. However, he said it was still unclear whether this was the case.

The prosecutor also said investigators found evidence in the form of used and unused condoms.

A motorist drives past the Samnang La’or massage parlor on Street 430 in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
A motorist drives past the Samnang La’or massage parlor on Street 430 in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The government has issued regulations forbidding police from using condoms as evidence of prostitution due to fears that the practice will discourage their use, but it is still common for officers to do so.   

Houn Da, who owns a tailor shop across the street from the massage parlor, said about 10 uniformed officers arrived in two police cars and spent three hours inside the establishment before taking the owners and women away.

Mr. Da said he had witnessed men entering and leaving the establishment during the daytime and early evening since opening his business three years ago, but had not suspected it was a brothel.

He said the women working there were free to come and go, and did not appear to be detained there.

(Additional reporting by Sonia Kohlbacher)

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