Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kidnapped and abused at eight



Kidnapped and abused at eight

Kidnapped and abused at eight

Fourteen year old "Sophany" will probably be the first Cambodian to die

of AIDS in this country.

Sophany, now an orphan, was kidnapped from her home province of Kompong Cham and

sold to a fruit farm in Thailand as a child laborer when she was eight years old.

During the next five years she was subjected to nightly sexual abuse by the plantation

owner and his male laborers.

Then, earlier this year, her nightmare looked like ending when a Cambodian couple

found Sophany, who was then suffering from malaria, and brought her to Sihanoukville,

thinking they could use her as a servant.

When she failed to recover, they dumped her at a provincial hospital before eventually

she was found by the American-headquartered Assemblies of God organization, which

runs orphanages around Cambodia.

"When we found her, she was extremely malnourished," volunteer worker Neil

Youngquist recalled.

Medical tests proved she was suffering from several sexually-transmitted diseases

and hepatitis B. She was also HIV positive.

When the Assemblies of God group contacted other non-government organizations directly

involved in AIDS programs they found that no one could help Sophany.

Youngquist also found that he had to confront considerable prejudice from his own

Cambodian staff as well as from doctors at Phnom Penh hospitals.

"Even at the Pasteur Institute, the staff would shrink away when we brought

her in for blood tests," he said. "We would have our arms around her, but

they would visibly back off."

Finally a doctor from Medecins Du Monde took Sophany into his care and the malaria

eased up. Even so, she probably has a year and a half to live at most.

"It's made us think a lot, because now we have to make plans for subsequent

childen who will test positive for HIV," said Youngquist. "She won't be

the last."

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