The Kampong Cham provincial court yesterday charged a man with setting fire to his pregnant wife on Friday, police said.
Bos Khnor commune police chief Heng Meng said that Yo Ra, 25, poured gasoline on his 21-year-old wife, who was eight months pregnant, and set her on fire after she refused to give him money for alcohol, leaving her seriously burned.
On the night of the incident, Ra had returned home drunk and flew into a rage when his wife refused to give him money so he could continue drinking, Meng said, adding that the wife’s parents also had told him to stop drinking.
“He became so angry,” Meng said. “He took two bottles of gasoline and poured them on his wife and [lit] them with a cigarette lighter.”
The wife and her parents called for help, and police managed to arrest Ra, while his wife was sent to the Kampong Cham provincial hospital, Meng said.
As of yesterday, the wife remained in hospital with serious burns over most of her body, but doctors said both she and her baby would survive, he said.
The husband also had been slightly injured when sparks flew from his burning wife and struck him, Meng added.
One of the couple’s neighbours, Chan Srey, 43, said she had alerted police after she heard the woman’s cries for help and saw her aflame in front of the family’s house.
She added that she had seen Ra beating and shouting at his wife in the past, but that this was the worst incident by far.
“I feel so bad for her,” Srey said. “She was pregnant, but her husband did not take care of her health. Just the opposite – he set fire to her.”
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the United Nations Development Program, rights group Adhoc and a range of other bodies have found in Cambodia that women often fail to report all but the most serious domestic violence for fear of losing the economic support of their husbands.