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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Handling of spousal rape case draws fire

Handling of spousal rape case draws fire

A KAMPONG Chhnang court is investigating accusations that a 29-year-old policeman, who was arrested on claims he assaulted his pregnant wife,  also repeatedly raped her while she was locked in her room for two months before finally escaping. Rights groups and the victim's lawyer urged that the suspect, who has only been charged with assaulting the 24-year-old woman, face more serious charges.

Sen Vibol, from Kampong Speu, was arrested May 25 after threatening his wife and her family with a knife at their Kampong Chhnang province home, victim's lawyer Hok Mengeam told the Post Monday.

She added that during the investigation into the assault, the victim, who is four months pregnant, accused Sen Vibol of detaining and raping her, saying that she had been handcuffed to a bed in a locked room.

 The victim only escaped after convincing one of her husband's relatives to free her, Hok Mengeam said.

"I will follow up with investigating judge this week to present him [more evidence] in order to add charges against the man because his act were brutal," Hok Mengeam said.

The case has raised alarm among rights workers, who say Sen Vibol must face more serious charges.

"I very much regret that the court charged the man only with injuring his wife, which is a very light charge," said Kong Chanmony, a coordinator for the rights group Licadho in Kampong Chhnang province.

"Her detained husband said at the police station that he locked up his wife just for fun, as she is his wife," Kong Chanmony said.

Prak Sao Ny, the chief of Kampong Chhnang provincial Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau Police, said Monday: "[The man] confessed that he tortured his wife ... and I firmly hope that he will be seriously be punished."

Brutal, but not unique

Ket Marady, chief of the Legal Protection Department at the Women's Affairs Ministry, said that, although this case was particularly brutal, "there are lots of different kinds of spousal abuse and domestic violence in Cambodia, including mental, physical, sexual and economic".

She added that while more victims of spousal abuse were speaking out, many are still pressured into remaining silent.

"I am very proud that now some Cambodian women are brave enough to ask for police intervention for spousal abuse ... but others remain silent because traditions and customs do not allow them to face their domestic problems," she said.

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