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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Akashi's Response Not Enough

Akashi's Response Not Enough

Editors:

At first I could hardly believe that Mr. Akashi would ever make such a statement

as your paper quoted him as saying (Phnom Penh Post, Oct. 11, 1992). However, in

light of the highly responsible journalism that the Phnom Penh Post has displayed

in the past, I must accept it as true.

At one time Mr. Akashi's highly irresponsible statement might have been excusable

as some sexual bias, or perhaps even some cultural anomaly peculiar to the Japanese.

Those times have passed. One would think that Mr. Akashi would have been aware of

the changes in the world. Is he not from the country that is still reeling from the

shame and disgrace caused by the Japanese military's use of enslaved "comfort

women" during World War II? Are the Cambodian women somehow less human than

the "comfort women"? Is Mr. Akashi somehow completely ignorant of the AIDS

epidemic?

This "boys will be boys" mentality is inexcusable. The arrogance and insensitivity

of many of the UNTAC personnel certainly does not need the further inducement caused

by the UNTAC leader effectively giving permission to their antics. In all frankness,

how much do you have to pay a "hot blooded young soldier" to stay sober

and keep his britches on?

UNTAC's response so far has been a farce. The establishment of a special "Community

Relations Office" staffed by one inexperienced (albeit highly motivated and

dedicated) young woman to deal with the issue of sexual harassment and abuse is further

evidence of Mr. Akashi's complete failure to grasp the scope of the issue.

I had expected a much louder cry of protest from fellow UNTAC staff, especially from

United Nations Volunteers who are certainly not paid enough to keep their mouths

shut. I trust that somewhere, someone is collecting signatures calling for the resignation

of Mr. Akashi. Kindly add my name to the petition.

- Bert Hoak, United Nations Volunteer

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