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K Chhnang families fight for kids’ custody

Two families in Kampong Chhnang province have filed competing complaints to authorities over the custody of two young children, with the children’s sister accusing their former custodians of abuse, and the alleged abusers accusing the woman of abducting the children.

Chhieng Taing Y, 27, said she filed a complaint to the National Police yesterday calling for action against Sim Neng, 55, and her sons, who she says repeatedly beat her younger siblings and forced them to work as fruit vendors in Phnom Penh.

“I demand they bring them to court,” said Taing Y, who took in her siblings upon learning of the alleged abuse.

Taing Y’s siblings, 7 and 11, came to live with Neng after their mother, unable to pay a $100 debt, sent them to live with her as housekeepers. In Neng’s care, the children were allegedly beaten with clothes hangers and electrical wires in addition to the forced labour.

Neng’s husband – who declined to give his name yesterday – denied the allegations of abuse, and maintained that his family had a letter from village authorities permitting the arrangement.

The family has filed its own complaint to the provincial court accusing Taing Y of abducting the children. “We will love and take care of them until they grow up,” he said.

The court questioned Taing Y last week, and the provincial juvenile protection department summonsed the children’s mother, but she has fled the area, according to Sam Chankea, of rights group Adhoc.

Court prosecutor You Tith Vatanak could not be reached.

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