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Hun Sen Mocks Rights Advocates for Criticizing Arrest of “Sexily” Dressed Woman

FILE - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers a speech during a groundbreaking ceremony to build the country's first expressway, in Kampong Speu province, south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, March 22, 2019.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday mocked rights advocates for criticizing the recent arrest of a woman who dressed too “sexily” while selling products on Facebook, challenging them to post similar “sexy” photos and videos of their wives and daughters.

The National Police arrested Thai Srey Neang last month for dressing provocatively on the social media website, charging her for pornography. Hun Sen, who was at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, made a shocking comment on Monday asking those who criticized the arrest to post “sexy” videos of their wives and daughters and that he would help publicize these posts.

“Please have your wife [pose] nude or wear sexy [clothes], and we will help broadcast. I am willing to pay and have the posters posted on trees. Do you dare?” he said, with officials at the meeting laughing at his suggestion.

The woman was charged under trafficking law and could face up to a month in prison if found guilty. The move was summarily criticized by rights groups and women rights advocates as moral policing that blamed victims for sexual trafficking.

“It is important to note that social values are arbitrary, relative, and constantly changing. Also, there is no evidence-based research that affirms that women’s clothing choice is the root cause of degradation of social morality,” read a statement released by rights groups and advocates in February.

Bunn Rachana, director of women rights organization Klahaan, said the authorities should focus on addressing and reducing trafficking rather than spend time telling women how to dress.

​“It is the matter of moral or traditional code. It should not be a matter related to criminality,” she said.

Human rights lawyer Sok Samoeun said people could take a moral stand on what women wore, but there was no legal provision to arrest them for their sartorial choices.

“Law on human rights trafficking refers to any images which could cause sexual arousal. But just wearing undergarments would [not be] at the level of raunchy images,” he said.