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Kampot police eye allegations of child abuse

POLICE in Kampot province have launched an investigation into a woman accused of beating her 16-year-old niece, officials said Monday.

The girl was removed from her aunt’s custody last Tuesday, after neighbours told police and the rights group Adhoc that she had been abused for around six years. Officials investigating the case said they found more than 20 wounds on the girl’s body, some old and some fresh.

Chin Oav, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking department, said Monday that he had asked neighbours of the suspect to assist with the investigation, but that so far only one witness had come forward.

“They are afraid the woman will seek revenge because she is very cruel,” he said, and added that a witness interviewed Monday had alleged that the suspect used a range of objects to beat the girl, and that beatings had taken place “almost every day”.

He said he was planning to interview the suspect today.

“I will send her case to the court if I find her answers and the witness’s answers are the same,” he said.

Provincial court prosecutor Chhum Samban said Sunday that he had asked police to investigate last Wednesday, but declined to comment on how it was going.

“It remains mysterious, so to avoid any failure we prefer not to comment,” he said. “We will summon the defendant if we have enough proof.”

Chin Oav said such cases were rarely reported in Kampot. “This is the first case of very cruel child abuse in Kampot province that I have met,” he said.

Haidy Ear-Dupuy, advocacy and communications director for World Vision Cambodia, said Monday that accurate figures were hard to come by, but that the organisation believes an estimated 30 percent of children nationwide experience some form of abuse.

Sim Sorphea, head of Adhoc’s women’s rights programme in Kampot, said the NGO Hagar International has been providing shelter, healthcare and legal aid to the girl since she was removed from her aunt’s custody.

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