A KOH Kong woman accused of beating her 12-year-old stepson with electrical wire and bamboo has been released on bail and given custody of the boy again, officials said yesterday.
Chhin Chamroeun, a monitor with rights group Adhoc, said the provincial court decided to release the woman on bail on June 23, less than two weeks after she was arrested and charged with battery.
“The woman made a promise with the court and NGOs not to fight her stepson anymore, and she has to look after him carefully,” she said.
Meas Vanthana, Koh Kong provincial court’s deputy director, confirmed that the woman had been released on bail.
Court procedure allows suspects charged with misdemeanour crimes to be released on bail even if an investigation is under way, Meas Vanthana said. No court date has been set in the case.
Chhin Chamroeun said Adhoc staff observed no signs of abuse during a recent visit with the woman and the boy.
“We did not see any more new wounds on the boy’s body, and he has new clothes to wear to school,” she said.
She said she thought the decision to release the mother on bail could be a positive step, allowing the woman to change her behaviour and become a good mother.
Police arrested the woman in June after a neighbour found the boy with bloodied hands and legs. At the time, Chhin Chamroeun described the case as one of the worst instances of child abuse she had seen in the province.
The boy said that his stepmother forced him to earn money by collecting rubbish and selling the scraps. When he didn’t earn enough money, his stepmother beat him, he said.
Chea Pyden, executive director of the Vulnerable Children Assistance Organisation, said child abuse was more common in rural areas than urban ones, but that the prevalence of such violence was hard to measure.
“We have difficulty collecting statistics because sometimes [parents] beat their children in their home quietly and authorities don’t cooperate with us,” Chea Pyden said.