Please Don’t Invade the Sidewalks!

This morning, Samnang and Sothie arrived very early at their favorite coffee place. After a few sips of coffee, the two friends went to their respective workplaces. Still, they had time for a brief conversation that turned toward the widespread habit of invading or, which could be described in Khmer as, “raping” the sidewalks. (See note below.)



Sothie: So many people act like invaders when it comes to the use of sidewalks these days!



Samnang: What do you mean by invader regarding the use of sidewalks? I don’t think I have ever heard that before! I usually hear people invading one another’s lands, properties or even businesses. When you speak of invasion regarding sidewalks, it actually raises many questions for me. I am not quite sure about that. Can you explain?



Sothie: Come on, Samnang. We have addressed the issue in many discussions. How can you not know?!?



Samnang: Get on with it. We don’t have all day.



Sothie: Invading the sidewalks is the act of using the sidewalks, which are obviously public property, for private interest such as businesses. Some mistakenly believe that the sidewalk in front of their houses actually belongs to them. This is a misunderstanding. Sidewalks are public property. It serves as public space for people to walk and circulate in town. This kind of misunderstanding leads to an invasive act and the misuse use of public sidewalks. Samnang, do you understand, now?



Samnang: Actually, I did, since you first started moving your lips. I would suggest another word to describe this “invading the sidewalks” scenario.



Sothie: What is it?



Samnang: That other word is “raping” the sidewalks. The sidewalks are being raped by people who misunderstand their use.



Note: In Khmer, the word “violate” and “rape” have the same meaning. In the above text, the word “violate” can be used interchangeably with “rape” to describe the invasive act of appropriating public sidewalks for private use.


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