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Matchstix has been a relative success in its first six months, clocking nearly 200,000 users who have made over 70,000 matches as of February 8, ac­cording to Ms. Users of the app, which initially launched in Khmer and is now also available in English, are presented with photos of another user who fits their specific age, gender and distance criteria.

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Another 18-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, said she would never meet up with a stranger she had met online.“I almost got rape once, so yeah, you know?

” she wrote over the messaging and matchmaking app Badoo.

Still, with more and more users signing up every day, Ms.

In addition to focusing on a Khmer-­language audience, Match­­­­­stix’s visuals and marketing materials come in various shades of red and pink.“So if you are—excuse my French—a sleazy 70-year-old trying to find a girl, it’s highly unlikely you’d use [Matchstix],” Ms. She acknowledged that the app’s aesthetics cannot ward off all predatory behavior among the user base—which is currently almost three-quarters male—particularly if it happens outside the digital realm.

Some 21 percent of Cam­bodian men admitted to having perpetrated rape at some point in their lives, according to a 2013 U. report, which found that just over a quarter of Cambodian women had experienced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a partner.

Though some young women in Phnom Penh said they would be fine meeting someone in person after chatting on the app, others were less sure.An 18-year-old who gave her name only as Vannarin said she found the idea “scary,” though three of her friends sitting in Wat Botum park said they would consider it.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.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.

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