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

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues 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.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid