Peeping-tom footage allegedly taken by an unscrupulous Buddhist monk is spreading across the county via cell phones in a widening phenomenon authorities are trying to curb.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Information made a public appeal to stop the spread of the videos, which depict women showering in a Phnom Penh pagoda.
The images were allegedly secretly taken by Neth Kai, a 35-year-old monk at Srah Chak pagoda. He was arrested June 26, following a police investigation prompted by a victim’s complaint.
Neth Kai has been defrocked and charged with producing and distributing pornography, which carries a jail sentence of up to a year.
Officials now say the images he took are moving from person to person via their cell phones and Bluetooth technology.
“The sharing of naked women [images] through technological equipment from one person to another continues,” Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said. “However, there is an absolute prohibition from authorities.”
Khieu Kanharith urged the promotion of good acts by Cambodians to counter the alleged “bad act of the former Buddhist monk.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Information asks people to stop sharing and to erase the offending images, “to join in the promotion of the honor of the Cambodian women and our national prestige and to avoid being looked down on by foreigners.”
Ros Sopheap, director of the organization Gender and Development for Cambodia, said the distribution of the images could affect efforts to promote women’s rights and to prevent domestic violence.
Supreme Patriarch Non Nget criticized the former monk for his alleged behavior, but he was quick to add that it was not a reflection of monks in general.
“We are sorry that this man who was formerly a monk did something repulsive to Cambodian society,” he said.