A woman was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Monday for allegedly pimping out at least seven underage girls to Cambodian and foreign men, police and an NGO said Tuesday.
Police from the municipal anti-human trafficking bureau apprehended Sok Him, 37, as she was leaving the Bolina Palace Hotel on Street 154 in Phsar Thmei III commune, according to bureau chief Keo Thea.
“We had been investigating this target for a long time and we found that this woman brought teenagers to have sex with foreigners,” Mr. Thea said.
“She earned about 50 percent of the profits from this business,” he added.
Mr. Thea said that at the time of her arrest, Ms. Him was leaving the hotel with two of her alleged victims—aged 17 and 19—but that after questioning, she admitted to police that she had two other girls working for her. He said his officers had also identified several men who had purchased sex from Ms. Him’s girls.
“The two girls were sent to the Phnom Penh municipal social affairs department and we are now building a case to send the suspect to the court tomorrow,” he said.
In a statement Tuesady, anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), said that one of Ms. Him’s alleged victims, a 17-year-old girl, reported the allegations some six months ago.
Contacted by telephone, APLE country director Samleang Seila said his organization informed police at the time, but there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest.
He said APLE had identified at least seven girls under the age of 18 who might have been working for Ms. Him. “But there could be a larger number of girls involved based on the woman’s confession to police,” he added.
Mr. Seila said APLE also had proof that a Korean man in Siem Reap City purchased sex from one of the girls in 2014.
“She said she transported [the girls] to some other Western clients, but there is no evidence of that,” he said.
According to Mr. Seila, the 19-year-old who was with Ms. Him when she was arrested was the only adult working for her, but the teen would not be charged with prostitution because police considered her a victim of sex trafficking.