An angry mob surrounded a police station in Russei Keo district on Wednesday night after the parents of a 14-year-old girl claimed that a Vietnamese woman tried to kidnap their daughter – the latest in a string of kidnapping claims in the city – but were met with disbelief from police.
Tuon Sraloeng, the 32-year-old mother of the alleged victim, said a 26-year-old ethnic Vietnamese woman known as “Chaing” tried to lure her daughter from near their home on Wednesday evening, but that police told her the woman was only mentally ill and not a child snatcher.
In a video shared widely on social media, the teenager says she was near her home in Tuol Sangke commune when the woman asked her how old she was, and invited her to leave to get apples.
“I told her that I couldn’t go because I was afraid my father would beat me,” she says.
The teenager says Chaing then pulled on her hand and grabbed her shoulders before her neighbours shouted at the woman and she was able to run home with the woman in pursuit.
Acting Tuol Sangke Commune Police Chief Norng Sarbong said that the incident had led to a large mob gathering outside the station for hours.
“People flocked to see her and beat her because the people are scared of children getting kidnapped and they claimed this is a ‘youn trick’,” Sarbong said, using a word for Vietnamese often considered to be derogatory. “They did not listen to our reasons, and they kept arguing.”
Sarbong said the parents of the girl also did not accept that Chaing was mentally ill until police took her to Calmette Hospital and the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, which both told her the woman, who was released after the mob dispersed, had a history of mental illness. “After, everyone went back to their houses,” he said. “It was because the woman was Vietnamese, and it seems to be racism.”