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

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and