At first I could hardly believe that Mr. Akashi would ever make such a statement
as your paper quoted him as saying (Phnom Penh Post, Oct. 11, 1992). However, in
light of the highly responsible journalism that the Phnom Penh Post has displayed
in the past, I must accept it as true.
At one time Mr. Akashi's highly irresponsible statement might have been excusable
as some sexual bias, or perhaps even some cultural anomaly peculiar to the Japanese.
Those times have passed. One would think that Mr. Akashi would have been aware of
the changes in the world. Is he not from the country that is still reeling from the
shame and disgrace caused by the Japanese military's use of enslaved "comfort
women" during World War II? Are the Cambodian women somehow less human than
the "comfort women"? Is Mr. Akashi somehow completely ignorant of the AIDS
This "boys will be boys" mentality is inexcusable. The arrogance and insensitivity
of many of the UNTAC personnel certainly does not need the further inducement caused
by the UNTAC leader effectively giving permission to their antics. In all frankness,
how much do you have to pay a "hot blooded young soldier" to stay sober
and keep his britches on?
UNTAC's response so far has been a farce. The establishment of a special "Community
Relations Office" staffed by one inexperienced (albeit highly motivated and
dedicated) young woman to deal with the issue of sexual harassment and abuse is further
evidence of Mr. Akashi's complete failure to grasp the scope of the issue.
I had expected a much louder cry of protest from fellow UNTAC staff, especially from
United Nations Volunteers who are certainly not paid enough to keep their mouths
shut. I trust that somewhere, someone is collecting signatures calling for the resignation
of Mr. Akashi. Kindly add my name to the petition.
- Bert Hoak, United Nations Volunteer