Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Brave woman overcomes acid horror

Brave woman overcomes acid horror

Brave woman overcomes acid horror


A 22-year-old former bar worker, disfigured by acid and lacking adequate

medication and money, made a dash for freedom from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom

Penh where she is now seeking justice for her injuries and illegal

imprisonment.

Som Rasmey, 22, now back with her family, disfigured for life from the acid attack

by her lover's wife, and her baby is still kidnapped

Som Rasmey said she was attacked with acid by her lover's

wife then spirited out of Cambodia to stop her laying a complaint with the

authorities.

Speaking softly and sobbing quietly, Rasmey recounted her

story at the premises of an NGO which wished to remain anonymous for fear she

would be harmed by her former lover.

Rasmey was a Remy Martin cognac girl

at CADO restaurant at Prek Leap when she met 42-year-old Lim Sok Heng, Royal

Cambodian Armed Forces chief of logistics at Region 2 base in Kampong Cham

province in 1998. They maintained a secret relationship for six to seven months

before Heng's wife, Minh, found them out. Sok Heng eventually agreed to end the

relationship, though by that time Rasmey had given birth to their

daughter.

The break, however, was a short one. Sok Heng duped Rasmey into

going to a hotel in Kampong Cham, from where she was abducted and kept in a

village where he visited her regularly.

However, his wife Minh discovered

the relationship was continuing and on November 6 last year she and four other

women went to the village, grabbed Rasmey and poured acid on her face and body.

They also seized her newborn daughter.

Rasmey was taken to Kampong Cham

hospital by a neighbor then later the same day moved to Phnom Penh and three

days later taken to Vietnam.

She said the hospital in Vietnam provided

little help to her. She had no money to pay hospital workers for treatment or

medicine; instead she treated her wounds every day by bathing them in boiled,

salted water to try to stop infection.

After about 45 days in the

hospital she was moved into a rented house in Ho Chi Minh City where she was

under constant guard.

Som Rasmey, 22, now back with her family, disfigured for life from the acid attack

by her lover's wife, and her baby is still kidnapped

She said Lim Sok Heng visited her in Vietnam just

before Khmer new year and told her she would not return to Cambodia.

She

said she asked him to take her back home to see her family and her daughter but

he refused and threatened her saying: "There is no way you are ever seeing your

mother, brother and sisters ever again in your life."

She said she

believed she was sent to Vietnam to stop her making a complaint to the

police.

"They left me living a hard life while they had happiness here,"

she said weeping.

Rasmey's mother told the Post that she had heard many

rumors that her daughter could not have survived such a serious injury and she

believed she had lost her.

She said Sok Heng threatened her when she

tried to enlist the aid of an NGO to help.

She said that Sok Heng told

her: "I look after her now. If you still file the complaint I will shoot her

myself."

But on May 1 Rasmey's imprisonment ended. Her guard was bitten

by a dog and taken to hospital. Seizing the opportunity she fled the house and,

using sign language, hired a succession of moto-taxis to take her to the

border.

Once there she managed to borrow $15 from a Cambodian taxi driver

to pay for the moto trips on the understanding her family would repay the money

once she arrived in Phnom Penh. She was detained for two and a half hours by

Vietnamese border officials who were reluctant to let her pass without a

passport or identification. However she said they took pity on her and

eventually let her cross the border.

She arrived in Phnom Penh at 11pm

and had an emotional reunion with her family.

"I met my mother as if I

was reborn," she said with tearfully. "We were very, very happy and cried

because it had been such a long time that we waited for this day to

arrive."

She said initially there was some confusion about her identity

because she was so scarred and disfigured; however, they recognized her

voice.

"My older sister tried to push me off the stairs when I arrived

home, but I said to her that I am Rasmey, your sister," she said.

Rasmey

has now filed a complaint with the Kampong Cham provincial court asking for

$50,000 compensation and the return of her baby daughter.

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