Just say don't

Cambodian officials try to stifle the local sex trade by posting signs in public places.

By Jack Boulware
October 5, 2000 11:20PM (UTC)
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Tourists taking a vacation in Cambodia will soon be confronted with signs in their hotel that read: "No sex with children, no sex industry." If you're visiting the country to sample its wild and untamed sex industry, in particular to have sex with young children, consider yourself officially warned -- by the government, no less.

The history of human existence tells us that nothing halts a sex criminal in his tracks better than a warning sign. If someone in the midst of committing a sexual offense happens to glance up and see such a sign, the reaction is always the same -- the person quits committing the sex crime at once, goes right down to the police station and turns himself in.


In other words, Cambodia's leaders are desperate for a concrete solution to the problem, and nothing better has come to mind.

This pathetic sign-posting campaign is the brainchild of Tourism Minister Veng Sereyvuth, and is designed to stem the tide of thousands of foreigners who cross Cambodia's borders to take advantage of its booming sex industry and relatively lenient laws. Tourism has increased in recent years but, unfortunately, so have child-sex cases, some involving children as young as 8. So last week Sereyvuth held a press conference at a tourism industry meeting, and revealed his latest plan -- posting the anti-pedophilia signs at hotels, guesthouses and nightclubs.

"Sex tourism -- no," Sereyvuth told reporters at the gathering in Phnom Penh. "When Cambodia has an image [associated with] the sex industry, visitors will not come and even businesses don't like it."


Sereyvuth insisted that the country does not need the sex industry to attract tourists: "We also will have a policy to withdraw the license of any business owner who is involved with the sex industry."

Cambodia is eager for any solution at this point. Two months ago, Women's Affairs Minister Mu Sochua proposed the expulsion of any foreigners suspected of sex crimes, whether or not they were convicted of a crime.

"Cambodia should prevent this trend," added Sereyvuth, who is apparently fond of stating the obvious. "The country has more than 1,000 temples and more to be discovered."

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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