A 23-YEAR-OLD man was arrested on Friday and has been remanded into custody after allegedly raping his 9-year-old niece at his home in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district, police said.
The accused was arrested following complaints from his wife, who said the man raped the victim several times at his home on Thursday. District police chief Roeung Bo said the man had already confessed his guilt to authorities.
“The suspect confessed to raping his niece after the girl’s mother trusted him to take care of her, as the mother went to work in Thailand,” he said.
“The man’s wife told us her husband raped his niece inside the grocery store located at the front of the house.”
After the wife of the accused took the girl to hospital, doctors confirmed that she had been sexually assaulted.
Prak Sophima, investigator of women’s issues for the rights group Adhoc, said that although she was unaware of the specifics of the case, the organisation would conduct its own investigation.
“I was tipped off about the case Sunday,” she said. “We will investigate the case in order to guarantee justice for the victim.”
Meanwhile, Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi on Friday defended the government’s record on combating rape and providing services to rape victims, responding in particular to an Amnesty International report released earlier this month that said rape victims often had to resort to bribing officials in order to have their cases heard.
“What the Amnesty report showed is not new. The government has been taking serious action,” the minister said during a press conference at the Australian embassy.
Referring to the report’s claim that police, the media and NGOs have tallied more rape cases lately, she said: “The increase [of abuse] does not mean there is a real increase; rather, it is the effectiveness of law enforcement officers or police who arrest perpetrators. There is more intervention on time.”
The report drew from interviews with 30 female victims aged between 10 and 40, and concluded that most perpetrators of sexual violence never face trial in Cambodian courts, and that victims – particularly the poor – are routinely denied access to legal and medical services.
However, Ing Kantha Phavi said Cambodian authorities were better equipped than ever to handle cases of rape and sexual violence.
“In the past, there were weaknesses in the court process. Now, we have increased prosecutions and convictions,” she said.
“What we can say is that there is a high commitment from the government to combat such issues.”