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The digital platforms—which include local entrant Matchstix as well as international services like Facebook, Badoo and Tinder— are capitalizing on cultural shifts, along with technological trends.“Traditionally, most marriages were arranged and therefore most relationships were deprived of the ‘romance’ associated with the individual autonomy of choosing one’s partner,” writes anthropology academic Heidi Hoefinger in “Sex, Love, and Money in Cambodia.”Pop songs, karaoke videos, films and magazines have edged aside older cultural mores, according to Ms. “The dominant sexual culture for contemporary young people in Cambodia is filled with strong themes of romance, love, and heartache.”One business hoping to take advantage of the changing times is Australian tech company MobiMedia.
When the company launched matchmaking app Matchstix last July, they pitched it as a way for Cambodians to meet new friends, out of concern that online matchmaking for overtly romantic purposes might be too risque.“I think Cambodians are in theory very conservative, and their parents are conservative,” said marketing and operations manager Klara Grintal at MobiMedia’s astro-turfed conference room—filled with neon beanbags—in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang I commune.“But if you go to the coffee shops, and you listen to conversations young Cambodians are having—and the kinds of messages they are exchanging—these are not very conservative at all,” she said.
Two years ago, 24-year-old Yi Sal was scrolling through his newsfeed on Facebook when he saw a pretty girl he’d never seen before.“I added her and start chatting with her,” the mustached singer and drummer said on a recent afternoon at Hun Sen park in Phnom Penh.
The two met up at a local coffee shop and hit it off.“Before, I had a few girlfriends, but now only one,” he said. Sal are increasingly turning to their smartphones and computers to like, swipe and chat their way to romance, bucking deep-seated cultural norms on courtship in the process.
A brief search of the public chatrooms finds very adult themed discussions and sexual predatory behavior.
Online sexual predators thrive in chatrooms that are anonymous.
Vannak Ken, a 22-year-old Norton University student, had never heard of Matchstix.
Antichat users also have the ability to make private chatrooms.
Since you can share images with strangers that you meet on Antichat, these private chatrooms are the perfect place to share pornography or nude selfies.
Instead, he has found partners on Facebook using a protocol now familiar to many Cambodians his age. After a [few] weeks or days of chatting, we go outside—to the park, or to the cinema.”The phenomenon has an analog precedent.
It starts when he gets a friend request from a stranger.“The person adds me and comes to my profile to like a photo,” Mr. For years, Cambodians have deliberately called “wrong” numbers to meet new people, according to Daniel Mc Farland, a Ph. Mc Farland said, but trades serendipity for algorithms and smartphone “selfies.”“Like elsewhere in the world, I think that physical presentation through photos will increasingly be part of the courting culture in Cambodia,” he wrote.