A man has been arrested and is expected to be charged with aggravated murder after allegedly raping and killing a 7-year-old girl in Kandal province late last week.
Hang Chan Thea, 22, was arrested by Military Police and the Child Protection Unit in Kien Svay district’s Koki commune on Friday evening.
According to CPU Director James McCabe, Chan Thea was a neighbour of the young victim, and told police in his confession that he took her from her home on his bicycle at around 2pm last Tuesday to an abandoned compound, where he raped her. He then held her against her will for about six hours before strangling her to death and dumping her body at a nearby dam, according to the organisation.
Chan Thea confessed that he killed the victim “primarily out of fear he would be identified”, McCabe said.
The case is one of at least four rape or attempted rape cases reported by police on the weekend, an indication of the dangers that continue to face women and girls in the Kingdom, activists said.
“Even though we’ve worked a lot to raise awareness about violence against women, it’s sad that this issue is continuing,” said Ros Sopheap, the executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, adding that many women and girls continue to face shame for reporting sexual assaults.
In Svay Rieng province, police are investigating the rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman whose body was found in a remote rice field on Friday.
Bavet Commune Police Chief Mao Phinpirum said the woman had been strangled with a scarf and was found with her pants hanging from one leg.
He added that the woman, who lived in Tbong Khmum province, was on her way to work at a casino in Bavet town in a taxi when she went missing. Authorities are looking for the taxi driver and a possible second assailant. “We are burning hand and leg to find the perpetrators,” said Kao Horn, Bavet deputy district police chief.
In Ratanakkiri province, police are looking for a man who allegedly tried to rape a 15-year-old girl on Friday evening in Banlung district. Kachanh Commune Police Chief Suong Savuth said the girl was travelling on her motorbike when a man asked her to stop and tried to pull her into a rubber plantation. “She escaped from him and called for help,” Savuth said. “She was able to escape because she confronted him and she was strong.”
The girl is currently at the hospital for treatment, Savuth said.
Meanwhile, in Phnom Penh, commune police arrested 33-year-old Pen Sophorn for allegedly attempting to rape a 21-year-old woman in Phnom Penh Thmey commune in Sen Sok district on Saturday. According to the National Police, Sophorn unbuttoned the victim’s pants and threatened the woman, but she escaped after a struggle.
Hun Boramey, country director of ActionAid, said the string of attacks highlighted the need for improved street lighting, increased police patrolling, better access to justice, and a change in public attitudes toward sexual violence.
“We need to shift the blame.
Women are often blamed for every sexual assault they’ve experienced,” Hun said. “What we can say is that the conversation around sexual assault is growing, which is a positive sign that the issue is being paid more attention.”