Recently, our organization, came to the support of women victims of rape. On Friday 12thNovember, 9 men raped 2 beer promotion women, in Phnom Penh (Tmei Commune, Sen Sok District). Those two workers are friends, the younger one is 21 years old and the elder 28 years old. Both worked as cleaners during the daytime and hostesses during the evenings. They lived together, in a shared room, by their work place. Their situation ressembles that of many women currently living and working in the capital city of Cambodia.
The aggressors came to them during their evening, at their restaurant, in Phnom Penh Tmey Commune. They asked them to go around the city after drinking, and then took them by a side street, to rape them, with all 9 of them lined up in front of them holding condoms and claiming to be ready for their turn. They then claimed they would kill and dump them in a nearby pond once they would be “finished with their body”. This story is profoundly disgusting and outrageous, and yet, regular occurrence throughout the country and particularly in Phnom Penh.
After some of the aggressors were arrested, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, however, released one of them without charge, after the Judge declared he had been wrongly identified. This, despite the fact that the 28 years old victim claims that the two arrested suspects are indeed some of her aggressors. The police declares it is continuing to hunt the remaining suspects. The women remain terrified that the men who escaped, will try to find them again. They just want to be left alone and rest.
We, at Strey Khmer, were informed of this through our Women’s Network. We have been doing all we can to support the victims. We have been providing shelter and food to the two victims. Working with LICHADO, we have sent the victims to the hospital (Municipal Hospital) for examination last week. We are waiting for the results at the end of this week.
We have also been going to the Municipal Court to ask about the released suspects. The response we got, “we have released one of the suspects for letting him to join the water festival”! Further, beside civil society, we have not seen any reaction and involvement from the relevant ministries. We continue to push, despite this shocking response and behaviour.
The great number of rapes in Cambodia reveal the deep social immorality of part of our society today. This is only worsening. The spokesman for the Nation Police Commissariat said they were concerned about a recent rise in reported rape, including this year. Between January and August in 2010, there have been 188 rape cases recorded when 154 cases had been recorded for the same period in 2009.
We are standing for the rights of these victims, as well as all individuals whose human rights are daily abused here in Cambodia. Systematically standing up for victims, being outspoken, and working alongside the civil society present in the country, we want to enforce a fundamental change in a culture of impunity which is only becoming worse.