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Woman accused of abusing teens

A PHNOM Penh woman accused of torturing two teenagers she employed as domestic servants has been sent to court for questioning after her arrest on the weekend, police said.

Sao Chanthy, 38, was arrested by police in the capital’s Sen Sok district Friday after a local rights group accused her of splashing hot water on two teenagers working in her house.

On Sunday, the woman was transferred to Phnom Penh Municipal Court following questioning by police officers, said Mak Hong, Sen Sok’s police chief. Police believe the woman doused a 17-year-old boy with hot water after she suspected him of theft.

“She checked the child’s pockets and found 11,500 riels. It caused her to become angry, and she threw hot water on the child’s belly,” Mak Hong said.

Scars found on the 17-year-old’s body and on the body of his 14-year-old sister will be used as evidence to suggest the two were abused, Mak Hong said.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor of local rights group Licadho, said neighbours brought the case to the group’s attention last week.

“The victim children told us that they always get tortured by the house owner. She throws hot water on them, cuts their faces with a knife and regularly beats them and pokes them in the eyes,” Am Sam Ath said. The two children have recent scars on their stomachs, hands and necks.

The two are originally from Takeo province, but came to work in the capital – the 17-year-old in 2004, and his sister in 2007 – for wages of 50,000 riels per month, Am Sam Ath said.

But he said he was concerned Sao Chanthy would ultimately face no legal consequences for her alleged actions, since her husband is a lieutenant colonel working at the Interior Ministry.

“We are worried that she will not get punished according to the law, even though she used these children as slaves, because her husband is an officer in the Ministry of Interior, and now he will try to use his rank to ask for her to be released,” he said.

Ek Chheng Huot, deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, confirmed yesterday that he had received the case, but he said he would not review it until today.

Risky business
Human rights advocates say domestic workers are particularly at risk of abuse because they spend their days and nights behind locked doors, away from the public eye.

Last October, police launched a raid on a villa in Sen Sok district, freeing an 11-year-old girl, and it was later revealed that she had been abused for months after being sold into domestic servitude.

In February, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Meas Nary to a maximum 20 years in prison for her role in detaining and abusing the girl. The woman’s husband, Var Savoeun, was given a 10-year term.

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