News / Asia

Amnesty International: Cambodia Must Act Against Rapes, Sex Crimes

Robert Carmichael

Amnesty International says rape and sexual crimes committed mainly against women and children has become a growing problem in Cambodia.  

To mark the 100th International Women's Day, the human-rights group Amnesty International is releasing a report on the scourge of rape and sexual violence in Cambodia.

Amnesty's report, called Breaking the Silence, criticizes what it says is a culture of impunity, corruption and indifference to victims of sexual violence.  The result is justice denied for Cambodian women, and increasingly for Cambodian girls.

During its research, Amnesty interviewed 30 victims of rape, as well as 50 non-government aid workers, police and government officials, and even a number of perpetrators.  Brittis Edman, who wrote the report, explains its focus.

"What we specifically looked at is the aftermath of rape, what are the obstacles that victims face when they seek justice and when they seek access to services," said Edman.

Amnesty found that victims seeking help ran into several problems that made their situation even worse.  

"Police often do not take them seriously, they do not necessarily investigate," added Edman.  "They ask for bribes to launch an investigation.  Court officials typically ask for bribes at all levels of the process."

Edman says medical specialists generally do not provide much in the way of free treatment, meaning victims need to pay money, which they often do not have, if they want help.

There are only a few places in Cambodia where victims can go for help.  One of those is called Banteay Srei, which is based in Battambang province in western Cambodia.

Banteay Srei provides a safe house, counsels victims, and connects them with non-government organizations that provide legal services and health services.

Sun Maly is Banteay Srei's team leader.  She says demand for its services has increased dramatically since it was set up five years ago.

Last year Banteay Srei helped 71 victims of rape, which was almost twice the number it helped the previous year.  Sun Maly says part of the reason for the rise is that more women and local officials are aware of Banteay Srei's existence.

But, she says, the problem of rape and sexual violence against women is getting worse.  And that is not due to a lack of sufficient laws.

"Cambodia has good laws, but they are not enforced and the perpetrators are not punished," said Sun Maly.  "And that provides a model for other people to follow suit."

Sun Maly says most rape victims helped last year by Banteay Srei were girls.

"The number of rape victims we helped was 71, and most were underage," she added.  "The majority, around 80 percent, were just 12 or 13 years old."

Amnesty's Edman says half of the rape victims she interviewed for the report were children.

And she stresses that she did not set out to interview child victims.  Instead, the high proportion simply reflects the large numbers of children, mainly girls, who are victims of rape and who were being helped by the non-government organizations that coordinated interviews.

Why does Edman think so many children are becoming victims of rape?

"Children are clearly more vulnerable in many ways," Edman explained. "What we have seen in the research is that those who live in poverty are more vulnerable, we have seen that sex workers are more vulnerable, and it appears also that children are more vulnerable."

In its report, Amnesty outlined five pages of recommendations for the government.  Among those is wholesale reform of the way rape allegations are investigated and processed through the court system.

Amnesty says bribes demanded by police must cease, more female police officers should be recruited and trained, and courts should be more sympathetic to victims.  The rights group also says the practice of paying compensation to victims in exchange for charges being dropped should cease.

But most importantly, says Edman, the government must vocally condemn rape.  That would cost the government nothing, but would provide comfort to victims and let society know that the crime of rape would not be tolerated.

As one women, who was raped by a monk last year, told Amnesty of her unresolved case: "If he cannot be touched, and is not brought to account, he can do it again.  This would make him arrogant and a terrible role model to the people."

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid