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Girl, 7, kept as maid: police

A couple is questioned by a police officer at their house in Phnom Penh
A couple is questioned by a police officer at their house in Phnom Penh yesterday after being arrested for allegedly beating a 7-year-old girl. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Girl, 7, kept as maid: police

Police yesterday arrested a Phnom Penh couple for allegedly enslaving and beating a 7-year-old girl who authorities believe was forced into a life of servitude.

Veng Vyna, 33, and Chiem Srey Doung, 30, of Meanchey district’s Boeung Tompun commune were sent to court on charges of human trafficking and intentional violence.

The arrests came two days after anti-human trafficking police removed the girl, who had been in the house from the age of 2, said Prum Santhor, Phnom Penh deputy police chief in charge of human trafficking.

“They beat the girl, causing injury to several places on her back and body,” Santhor said yesterday.

Neighbours reported the couple to police on Thursday, after they asked the child – who they rarely saw outside – about the cuts and bruises on her legs, Santhor said.

The girl said that when she didn’t clean well, Vyna and Srey Doung would beat her with wire.

The girl was removed from the home after investigating police found multiple bruises on her arms, legs and back, Lau Phirum, Boeung Tompun commune police chief, said.

Pieces of the girl’s past remained hazy yesterday, including in which province she had originally lived.

Through interviews with Vyna and Srey Doung, investigators learned that the girl’s mother left when she was 2, leaving her in the care of her alcoholic father.

A neighbouring family at the time suggested that the toddler move in with their relatives, Vyna and Srey Doung.

In the five years she lived with the couple, the young girl was never allowed to attend school, performing household chores instead, according to police.

The girl is now in the care of an NGO, police told the Post yesterday. Santhor and Phirum said that they were unsure of which organisation had taken her.

Finding a child trapped in a life of domestic slavery is a relatively common occurrence, according to Ngoy Heng, a branch manager of Cambodian Children’s Fund.

“She was exploited to work in the house of a couple who did not care for her and did not allow her to attend school,” Heng said yesterday.

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