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Abuse complaints on rise

Abuse complaints on rise

adhoc report
Vong Theary, who is a victim of domestic abuse, speaks to reporters yesterday at the Phnom Penh office of rights group Adhoc. Photograph: Sen David/Phnom Penh Post

A year ago, Vong Theary’s husband of more than a decade drunkenly pushed her from a moving car, causing her to break her leg. The 40-year-old mother of eight, who now can walk only with the assistance of a walking stick, filed for divorce but said yesterday she still was waiting to hear back from the court.

“He still beats me, even with my hurt leg,” the resident of Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district said, sitting with her deeply scarred leg propped up in front of her at a press conference.

Increasing numbers of women, children and migrant workers whose rights have been abused are filing complaints, but the response of law enforcement and courts has not matched this rise, according to a report from Adhoc, which yesterday released a report on women’s, children’s and migrant workers’ rights in 2012.

Continued abuse at home, the report finds, has driven many victims abroad, leaving them vulnerable to human trafficking and further abuses overseas.

Adhoc dealt with 74 labour trafficking cases in 2012, up from 20 cases in 2011, according to the report.

What’s more, ninety-two per cent of rights abuses against migrants involved workers who had legally migrated with proper legal documents through recruitment agencies, suggesting a need to prosecute such agencies, the report says.  At the same time, the complexity and cost of legal documentation in countries like Thailand encourages migrants to choose even riskier illegal alternatives.

In an effort to find justice for abused migrants, several NGOs, including Adhoc, Licadho and LSCW, are cooperating to bring a case against fishing company Giant Ocean, the subject of numerous abuse complaints.  

Licadho lawyer Ham Sunrith said preliminary testimony scheduled for last Friday had been postponed because the investigating judge needed time to read expanding case file.

The NGOs will ask that the government pursue criminal charges against the company and use its registration fee with the government to compensate the workers, Sunrith said. But like still-married Theary, they’re waiting to hear back from the court.

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