Police are investigating a provincial health official over allegations that he
raped a 15-year-old girl in June in exchange for a promise to get her mother out
In an alleged conspiracy between the official and a court
clerk, the girl's 42-year-old mother was jailed illegally in June for owing
50,000 baht to the official. He then told her daughter that if she had sex with
him, he would ensure her mother was freed and the debt canceled.
A sugar cane farmer strains against the current in flooded fields to take his crop to market.
provincial monitor of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC), said that Chum
Mongchheng, who is both owner of the Nimit Clinic and a health official in
Banteay Meanchey, lured the girl to a guest-house and raped her.
owner of the clinic came to [the girl], took her by the hand and forced her to
go with him to the guest-house," said Un Bundoeun, monitoring officer for the
CWCC in Banteay Meanchey province. "[He told the girl that] you have to let me
rape you for one night. I will pay you 20,000 baht and ensure your mother's debt
is canceled and that she is released from prison."
investigating judge at the provincial court, said he was investigating the case,
but said it could prove complicated as Mongchheng had told him the girl was not
a virgin and that she had previously taken money for sex.
"If we find
enough evidence against the perpetrator we will issue an arrest warrant to the
police; additionally, her mother will be released if I find no proof that she
cheated the accused out of money," said Soeun.
CWCC's Bundoeun dismissed
Mongchheng's allegations against the girl. She said she had spoken to the girl's
neighbors and that they had told her that she was not involved in prostitution
of any description.
Kuoch Theam, Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy chief
of police in charge of combatting trafficking, said that police had received a
complaint from CWCC seeking the arrest of Mong-chheng on July 25.
duty is to arrest the alleged perpetrator, but we cannot do it yet since we are
still waiting for an arrest warrant [to be issued] by the court," said
He said the number of rape allegations involving teenage girls had
increased in rural areas, and that there had been 18 cases since January in his
area alone. CWCC said that the increase was partly due to a well-founded belief
that perpetrators would escape punishment.
Yi Kosalvathanak, a monitor at
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc), and Lim Mony, head
of Adhoc's Women's Section, said corruption of local officials meant the law was
not properly enforced. They added that the increased availability of pornography
and the increasing spread of HIV/AIDS also contributed to rising rape
"Many people are afraid of being infected with HIV and don't
want to go to the brothels. Therefore young teenage girls and women in rural
areas have become a target for sexual misdeeds," said Kosalvathanak.
added that another problem with obtaining convictions was that police often
encouraged victims to settle the case with money, instead of going to
CWCC's latest bi-annual report stated that increasing numbers of
women and children in Banteay Meanchey were falling victim to rape, echoing the
pattern around the country.
From May 1999 to April 2001, CWCC helped 41
rape victims, 29 of whom were under-age. It also assisted 372 women who were
victims of violence.
Kosalvathanak said that punishment for rape is
provided by article 33 of the UNTAC Penal Code, which provides for five to ten
years in jail; rape of a minor is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.