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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rough justice for battered woman

Rough justice for battered woman

A KAMPONG CHAM mother who killed her violent husband

as he attacked her following an argument over his attempts to rape their

teen-aged daughters is certain to face a jail sentence, according to her

lawyer.

Huy Vannara, a lawyer from the Cambodian Defenders Project, said his client

Phay Ngoun Sreng's best hope is that she will be found guilty of manslaughter

rather than murder, but even then she will face between one and three years'

jail.

If the court decides the 42-year-old woman meant to kill her husband she

is likely to face a minimum of eight years' jail.

Vannara says the case really dates back to 1983. He said Sreng told him

it was at that time that her husband started beating her.

"He would grab her by the hair and beat her head into a wall but she

never fought back to him. Sometimes he held a knife to her throat,"

he said.

And it was not just the wife and daughters who suffered. A human rights

worker said that the husband killed his own son with a hand grenade after

the son warned his mother about the rape attempts.

Vannara said Sreng told him that things finally came to a head when the

father prepared to go to the fields and told his 15-year-old daughter to

come with him.

Sreng was suspicious that her husband was now going to attempt to rape this

daughter after he had made three failed attempts to rape an older one.

She told the daughter not to go. The husband became angry and started to

sharpen a long knife, saying he was going to kill an animal.

An argument then broke out between the husband, outside the house, and the

wife who had locked in a room inside.

Eventually the husband became so enraged that he burst into the housecarrying

the knife and used it to smash a cassette radio. He then attempted to strangle

his wife.

Their children intervened and dragged the husband off. At that point Sreng

picked up the knife and started to wave it in front of her in an attempt

to keep her husband at bay. He kept approaching and was cut on the neck

and died.

She was then arrested and placed in Kompong Cham jail where she has been

held for the past month, locked in a small dank cell with about 10 other

women prisoners for 21 hours a day.

Her lawyer and human rights group Licadho are now trying to get her released

on bail.

Meanwhile her children are being looked after by relatives.

Kampong Cham prison authorities refused a Post request to interview Sreng.

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