The Street Butterflies – inside Phnom Penh’s massage parlours

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Kung-fu Hillbilly
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The Street Butterflies – inside Phnom Penh’s massage parlours

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly »


Taing Rinith
November 29, 2

“I charge 5 dollars for using my hand and 10 dollars for using my mouth,” she told me. “Everything will cost you 15 dollars, including the protection.”

IT was just after noon when I reached a decrepit, hole-in-wall house on Street 430. In front of it stands a dusty sign announcing “Coining, Cupping and Massage – 10,000 riel”. Four scantily dressed women were sitting on two long sofas in the house, putting on make-up and watching Thai soap opera on their phones. I went in, and said I wanted a massage. One of the women, probably in her 30s or 40s, looked at me and asked me to choose one of them. I chose her.

Ahya says at first she only provided massage and coining services to male clients, which fetches only $300-$400 per month. Before long, her friends wised her up to earning twice as much and in some good months even more than that by providing “what men want”.

“Of course, as a Khmer woman, I don’t enjoy what I am doing, but I need money to feed my family,” said Ahya who was close to tears. “It is the only way for me to keep my children in school. I have to do this job because I did not have the chance to study when I was young.”

Ahya says most of her clients are workers or tuk tuk drivers, who usually come on their lunch break, but sometimes she receives teenage boys who “want to taste the first sexual experience”. On a good day, she could lap up to five clients, but she says earnings are less than the young, gorgeous women working in the nightlife area.

Lida (another moniker), another street masseuse at a nameless shop in Takhmao, says she also provides sexual favours, to mostly truck or taxi drivers who go past her shop, but only when she needed extra money. She keeps her deviations secret from her husband, a construction worker.

“Once I was even blackmailed by a man who claimed he was a police officer,” Lida says. “He forced me to have sex with him for free, or he would come back with the force to close down my shop. I was not sure he was really an officer, what choice did I have?”

full ... tterflies/
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