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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs