The former manager of a Phnom Penh garment factory was tried in absentia at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly attempting to rape three women who worked there.
The current whereabouts of Bangladesh national Faruk Amed, 41, who worked as the deputy director and general manager at Ocean Garment factory in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, are unknown to Cambodian authorities. The alleged attempted rapes at the factory occurred in 2011.
Phnom Penh municipal deputy prosecutor Kham Sophary said in court yesterday that on separate occasions, Amed cornered his three victims – aged 21, 24 and 27 – in an upstairs room at the factory and tried to force himself on them.
“He called the victims to come upstairs in the factory to check the quality of the clothing they produced,” Sophary said. “But when the victims entered the room, he locked the door, pushed them onto a pile of clothes, and attempted to rape them.”
Each of the victims shouted for help, compelling Amed to let them go free, he said.
The then 27-year-old victim yesterday said Amed often inappropriately touched female employees, and paid some for sex. He offered her money for sex in the past, but she repeatedly refused, she said.
Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace is likely prevalent in Cambodia’s garment sector, said Chhan Sokunthea, head of women’s and children’s rights for rights group Adhoc. But statistics on the issue do not exist, because such crimes are typically not reported by the victim. Only anecdotal information is available regarding sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the garment industry.
“Sometimes the victim is not knowledgeable of the law in Cambodia . . . They don’t want to complain against their boss, because they don’t want to lose their job,” Sokunthea said yesterday. “[And] victims don’t trust the courts.”
Chuon Mom Thol, president of the Cambodian Union Federation, which has a chapter at the factory, said he had not heard about the case.
“Even my union leader there did not report it to me,” Mom Thol said yesterday.
In court, Chan Huon, Amed’s defence attorney, argued that charges against his client should be dropped due to lack of evidence.
Phnom Penh municipal judge Nou Veasna will render a verdict on June 22.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN