Two U.S. tourists deported from Cambodia after allegedly taking nude pictures at Angkor Archaeological Park
It's the third known nude photo incident to hit the park in recent weeks
Authority that manages Angkor now looking into ways to deter such behavior
“What’s going on with the tourists lately?”
That’s likely the question going through the minds of officials at Cambodia’s Angkor Archeological Park, which has experienced a string of nudity-related incidents this year.
Last Friday, U.S. tourists and sisters Lindsey Kate Adams and Leslie Jan Adams were deported after allegedly getting caught taking partially nude photos at Preah Khan temple, one of the sacred sites inside Cambodia’s Angkor complex.
“It’s an offense to the culture of others, regardless of religion,” Kerya Chau Sun, APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap) National Authority spokesperson, told CNN.
“As a Cambodian, it’s hurtful to my belief, and especially to the poor Cambodians saving up money to be able to come across the country to pray at Angkor.
“Angkor is a sacred site for all Cambodians and practicing Buddhists, worldwide.”
The duo were charged with trafficking pornography and exposing sexual body parts.
They received six-month suspended prison sentences, a one-million riel ($250) fine and were banned from entering the country for four years.
A series of nude incidents
The sisters’ criminal faux pas took place on the heels two other incidents involving tourists who couldn’t keep their clothes on.
Three French tourists were deported earlier this month for allegedly posing for nude pictures in another temple at the World Heritage Site.
Meanwhile, last month a group of photos featuring a topless dancer leaning against the ruins surfaced on Facebook.
APSARA officials are still investigating the incident.
The government body is now looking into ways to deter tourists from taking off their clothes.
Some proposals include adding more guards in distant sites and pressing charges against tourists who are caught engaging in behavior deemed inappropriate.
“We are studying to impose dissuasive fines and prison sentences,” says Chau Sun.
“We may also request assistance from embassies to inform their citizens who visit Angkor on the sanctity of the site.”
Nudity in sacred spots isn’t just a Cambodian problem.
Early last year, Peru officials deployed similar measures after a chain of “naked tourism” incidents at Machu Picchu, also a World Heritage Site. They detained four American tourists, two Canadians and two Australians for stripping down for pictures at the site.
Expert: “Respect the community”
“I think tourists frequently forget that the Angkor Archeological Park is not an amusement park, but a place with living communities and many sacred places that are still actively maintained and worshiped,” says Alison Carter, an archaeologist who has been working in Cambodia for about 10 years and with the Greater Angkor Project since 2011.
“Tourists should dress modestly in accordance with Cambodian customs and treat the sites respectfully.
“Climbing on ruins, touching carvings and taking nude photographs is disrespectful to the Cambodians who live, work and worship at these sites and find them to be of great importance to their culture and heritage.”
CNN’s Laura Ma and Karla Cripps also contributed to the story.