Rights group Adhoc recorded 145 rape cases last year, most of which involved girls under 18 years old.
Mao Mab, head of the women and children’s division at rights group Adhoc, said her organisation had observed and collected data through its affiliates in the provinces.
She said some of the victims were raped by their relatives and some were even killed.
According to Mab, the main factor leading to rape was the victims’ economic situation. She explained that some parents worked abroad, leaving their children with grandparents who are not strong enough to care for their grandchildren.
Aside from that, she said some victims lived in huts, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.
“In most cases, parents or relatives only realised there was a problem when the child had an injury or pain. Most cases occurred in remote areas, which is another problem,” she said.
Mab added that most girls who were sexually abused did not dare talk about it to their family because perpetrators often threatened to kill them or harm the whole family if they broke the news.
She also attributed the problem to a limited understanding of the law among local people and little faith in the judiciary. She noted that because solving a complaint in court often took too long, the victims’ family sometimes opted to accept civil compensation from perpetrators outside the court system.
“Mostly the victims’ family took compensation [after filing a complaint] and did not pursue the case further in court. Some cases were also facilitated outside of court. This is why impunity persists.
“In criminal cases, even if a victim receives civil compensation, the case will still need to proceed through the court system.
“In most cases, compensation for victims only existed on paper despite a final verdict from the court because it took a long time to process. Therefore, the victims’ family sometimes chose to receive compensation outside the judicial system,” she said.
Regarding complaint procedure, Mab noted that relevant authorities have made greater efforts. Generally when there is a complaint, they would take action against perpetrators.
Mab said the highest number of rape cases was reported in Battambang, Kampot and Kampong Thom provinces. Many parents from these provinces work abroad, so the number tends to be higher than in other provinces, she explained.
Chiv Phally, director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, said on March 15 that if people are aware of a rape case, they should report it immediately to the police, especially the unit closest to them.
Early this month, a 23-year-old woman named Huon Srey, who worked at a casino in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, was raped and stabbed to death in her rental room.
The suspect, 38-year-old Roeun Thearin, was later arrested in Siem Reap province and was placed in pre-trial detention by the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court on March 6 on charge of premeditated murder.