Three men were arrested on Tuesday over the alleged gang rape – involving 10 men – of an 18-year-old woman in Banteay Meanchey province, police said yesterday.
Prom Then, chief of the provincial military police’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection unit, said the three men – students from Malai district aged 18 and 19 – were arrested at 9:30am by combined police forces and will be sent to court.
“There are 10 suspects. We have arrested three and seven escaped,” Then said. “We are searching for the rest in order to bring them to justice.
“The [three arrested] suspects are being detained temporarily at a military police base, and documents are being prepared for the court,” he said.
Then said the attack occurred Friday night when the victim was returning home by motorbike from a pagoda in Malai district at about 10:30pm.
During the victim’s journey home, her bike broke down near a school, forcing her to stop. She was then approached by the group of 10 young men, who raped her before fleeing, Then added.
“The victim was sent to the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center.”
Then said a complaint was filed to police on Monday and authorities arrested three of the men in O’Chrou district the following day.
According to a UN report released in September, one in five Cambodian men has committed rape, but more than 44 per cent of them have never faced legal consequences. Although almost half of them have been arrested, barely 28 per cent of perpetrators have been imprisoned, often due to issues of impunity, the report adds.
The UN study, which surveyed more than 2,000 men and women in Cambodia, also found that more than half of the Kingdom’s rapists were younger than 20 when they committed the crime.
For most of the countries surveyed – the report focused on the Asia-Pacific region – gang rape comprised about one to two per cent of cases listed. In Cambodia, however, that figure was more than five per cent.
Ly Vichuta, director of Legal Support for Children and Women, said yesterday that Cambodian society still lacked awareness of rape and the damage it was causing.
“Discussion about rape is still very limited,” she said. “There’s stigmatisation and [discrimination] that says rape comes [about] from the victim.
“If we pay less attention to rape, it can increase.”
More campaigning was needed, Vichuta said, to show that rape is a criminal act and that those who perpetrate it must be dealt with properly by the courts and sent to prison.
“[Awareness] may change the mind-sets of people [to believe] that they can eliminate the stigmatisation and the discrimination. I urge the government to pay more attention [to] violence against women … and to better provide legal aid to support victims of rape. Not many organisations are able to provide legal aid.”
Lim Mony, deputy chief of the women’s and children’s rights section at Adhoc, said she was not aware of the incident in Banteay Meanchey, but added that she had dealt with “similar cases”.
“It is forceful and it is violent – it’s a serious crime that the authorities must work together to prevent,” she said.
As of last month, Adhoc had recorded 192 cases of reported rape this year, Mony added. Almost three-quarters of those cases involved victims aged between 5 and 17.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights recorded 229 reported cases in 2012.