After more than seven years of captivity and torture at the hands of a local tycoon’s wife, two 17-year-old girls escaped from the tycoon’s mansion in Phnom Penh last week, police and NGO representatives said yesterday.
Anti-trafficking police found Song Kuthea and a girl identified only as Phally crying in front of the statue of Ta Dambong in Battambang town last Friday and took them in for questioning, said Thol Yuthea, an officer of Battambang’s anti-human trafficking bureau.
“We found many wounds on their bodies and legs,” he said. “They seem to have been beaten and mistreated by the house owner, an oknha.”
The identity of the tycoon could not be revealed due to the ongoing investigation, but according to a police source, he owns a popular apartment complex in the capital.
Unable to endure their mistreatment by the businessman’s family, the girl’s had fled to Battambang, where Kuthea had lived before her captivity, Yuthea said, adding that Phally’s home province was Takeo.
Battambang police had forwarded the case to the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department for further investigation, he said.
The two victims are currently staying at anti-human trafficking NGO SISHA’s centre in Battambang province for treatment and rehabilitation.
According to SISHA, the girls faced “electrical torture” as well as beatings in the mansion.
Kuthea’s aunt, Van Kol, 62, said she had originally brought her orphaned niece to work as a maid in Phnom Penh but had had no idea of the abuse Kuthea was suffering there.
“For more than seven years, they never told me that they were in difficulty or mistreated like this,” she said.
She was preparing to file an official complaint on behalf of her niece, she added.
According to a police official who asked not to be named, the two victims said that they were worked hard and beaten most days, and that when the tycoon’s wife tired of beating them, she sometimes ordered them to beat each other.
Anti-Human Trafficking Department director Pol Pithey said his office was investigating the case.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA AND JUSTINE DRENNAN