There is something that needs to be said about the recent article "A child rape
victim's small court victory".
The opinion expressed in the article,
that the defendant in this case got off lightly, is probably based on
comparisons with sentences given for similar cases in other countries,
particularly developed countries such as the United States.
Cambodia is not the United States and there is no reason to assume that
sentences given in a Cambodian court should correspond with those given in a
similar case in another country.
The judge in this specific case knows
better than someone else what sentence is in line with the prevailing moral
climate and public
sentiment of Cambodian society. That is why he is a
It is wrong for some group such as Cambodian Women's Crisis Center
(CWCC) to presume to be a better judge than the judge.
For example, the
article challenges the relevance of the defense argument that the victim was
still a virgin after the rape. In traditional societies, rape is a crime
primarily because it robs an honorable woman of her virginity and therefore her
If virginity is not lost then the crime is nothing more than a
The contrary opinion put forth in the article is just so
much American fem-speak. If it is true that the girl's virginity was left
intact, we should question even whether the event that occurred can be defined
Article 33 states that an attempt at rape is rape. This
statement is so logically convoluted as to do Bill Clinton proud and I would
hazard the guess that some American feminist helped in phrasing it.
clear from this article that groups like the CWCC as well as the Phnom Penh Post
are intent on interfering in the judicial process.
Such interference in
the judicial process has been going on in western countries for decades and has
led to the typically much harsher sentences for sex crimes - harsher sentences
than what many people feel is reasonable, given the circumstances in some
Besides that, such interference has led to a complete distortion
of the definition of rape.
But now, judicial interference is beginning
to be recognized by many westerners for what it is. It is a way for interest
groups, primarily feminist interest groups, to achieve unpopular and unjust
results that they could not achieve through a democratic process that involves
an elected legislative body.
Despite the fact that the Executive
Director of CWCC, Chanthol Oung, is a Cambodian, this organization is obviously
a tentacle of American-based feminist activism.
With regard to the
sentence in the Socheat case, the punishment for any crime should cause
suffering to the perpetrator that is no greater than the suffering that was
caused to the victim. This is an intuitive and sensible approach to justice that
only the most unreasonable could deny.
The feminists who diverge from
this principle and push for more extreme sentences can only do so because they
are confident that the law will never apply to them.
Yes, she was 14 and
yes, he had a knife. On the other hand, she is still a virgin and she was not
The current hysteria in developed countries over sex
crimes in general is the culmination of decades of feminist undemocratic
interference in the judicial process.
This is a process that has yet to
fully hit the small, undeveloped country of Cambodia and that is probably a good
thing. In fact it would be a good idea if the direction of influence were the
other way in this case. That is, it would be a good thing if some of the
radical, feminist-influenced, judicial activists in the United States and other
developed countries could learn a few things from the Cambodian system.
Kevin Charlebois, Bangkok