Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Inaction of cops slammed in case of deaf teen’s rape




Inaction of cops slammed in case of deaf teen’s rape

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Students at the Maryknoll Deaf Development program. Hong Menea

Inaction of cops slammed in case of deaf teen’s rape

Local police in Mondulkiri have been left scrambling after they were publicly reprimanded yesterday for failing to act on a report of rape committed against a 17-year-old deaf girl, a case one provincial police official acknowledged had “flaws” in its investigation.

The victim’s mother, Cheeng Thoeun, 48, said she had repeatedly begged for commune police to question and arrest the suspected rapist, Rin Bora, 21, on April 18, the day after the crime. She was told they could not make an arrest, citing lack of evidence. When they finally went to question him 10 hours later, the suspect had already fled.

“This is such an injustice for my family, and I felt very hopeless when the local authorities did not take action,” Thoeun said. Local media reports yesterday cited Mondulkiri Governor Svay Sam Eang blasting police for failing to act swiftly and leaving victims languishing.

Provincial deputy police chief Houn Kimheng, meanwhile, said commune police failed to send a report to the provincial level, adding that there were “flaws” in their handling of the case.

She said her technical staff had arranged a medical exam on April 20, which confirmed the victim had told the truth about the assault.

“When I watched the victim’s testimony and movement . . . I was not satisfied with the [official account],” she said. “It was not like that . . . it was true she was very shaky and shocked and scared . . . even though she could not speak, we can understand her. When we showed her the picture of the suspect on a phone, she wanted to crush the phone and she gritted her teeth.”

However, Yan Sanei, Pou Chrei commune police chief, said yesterday police could not act immediately as it was difficult to understand the victim, saying he had instead believed the suspect’s sister, who claimed it was consensual sex.

“We cannot question [the victim] and only her parents could understand her; she can speak only a little,” Sanei said, adding the victim had used gestures to demonstrate what had happened to her. “We could not arrest the suspect because we did not know whether there was really rape or not.”

He said he consulted Pech Chreada district police, who instructed him to wait for enough evidence to take to the prosecutor. By the time police attempted to make an arrest around midnight, Bora had fled and remains at large.

Sokly Keat, co-director of the Maryknoll Deaf Development Programme (DDP), urged the police to do more to understand deaf victims of crime, though he acknowledged the difficulties in the Cambodian context.

“They should not ignore any cases and use inability to communicate as a reason,” Keat said, adding the DDP could be contacted to facilitate sign-language assistance. However, he noted, the vast majority of deaf people do not know sign language.

But Ros Sopheap, of Gender and Development in Cambodia, said even victims without disabilities were often not believed or blamed for inviting sexual assault, and that for a deaf victim, seeking help could be difficult.

“For the deaf, I’m afraid, first, that police do not understand, and push her to act out [the assault]. This is worse, it is traumatising,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,