Claim that 12-year-old was regularly whipped illustrates vulnerability of children
AWOMAN in Koh Kong province forced her 12-year-old stepson to scavenge for money, then allegedly beat him on a daily basis when he didn’t earn enough, rights workers said Thursday.
One described the case as the most serious she had ever seen in the province.
Chhin Chamroeun, the Koh Kong provincial monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said her organisation was alerted to the case on Tuesday, when the boy’s neighbour in Khemarak Phoumin district became alarmed after seeing the boy’s bloodied hands and legs.
“It was very cruel for the boy,” Chhin Chamroeun said.
“I saw large wounds on his legs and forearms. It looked like he had been cut with a sharp knife.”
The boy said his stepmother forced him to earn money for the family by collecting rubbish and selling the scraps, Chhin Chamroeun said.
When he didn’t earn enough money, he was beaten, the boy said.
When he earned too much, the stepmother also beat him, accusing him of stealing.
The boy “told me that his stepmother used electric wire and bamboo sticks to beat him,” Chhin Chamroeun said.
“She told him not to cry or shout for help from a neighbour.”
Chhin Chamroeun said the boy has lived with his father and stepmother since he was very young.
However, when he was 7 years old, the stepmother started becoming more aggressive with him in response to his father’s drinking problem.
The boy’s neighbour, 38-year-old Nov Chandararoth, said he never suspected the boy was in danger because he never heard any screams for help.
But on Tuesday, he noticed the boy had blood on his skin, he said.
“When [he] left home and I saw the blood on his legs and hands, I asked him and he said his stepmother beat him,” Nov Chandararoth said.
The boy said he had been too afraid to ask for help, Nov Chandararoth added.
For the time being, it appears the boy is still staying with the stepmother accused of beating him. Attempts to contact her Thursday were unsuccessful.
The boy’s primary school director said he told the woman that the case would be brought to the attention of police and local authorities if the beatings continued.
“I asked the boy’s stepmother why she beat her son, and she said that she did not want to, but the boy is so stubborn and doesn’t listen to her and sometimes he cursed her,” said Lao Linda, the director of Tiroum Khet Primary School.
Lao Linda said she would check on the boy daily to make sure the abuse has stopped.
Adhoc’s Chhin Chamroeun said she was unsure how many similar cases her group has handled, but that the boy’s situation was the most serious she had ever seen in the province.
Last October, a case in Phnom Penh made headlines when a police raid revealed an 11-year-old girl had been held captive as a domestic worker, facing brutal beatings at the hands of her godmother.
Sue Taylor, manager of the psychosocial services department at Hagar International, which is overseeing the girl’s recovery, said her organisation only occasionally receives cases in which children have been beaten inside the home.
“We don’t get a lot of these kinds of cases, but I’m sure they happen,” Taylor said.
“It’s inside a house, and the child has no voice to get out there.”