Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police turning a blind eye to gang rape



Police turning a blind eye to gang rape

Police turning a blind eye to gang rape

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to your two articles: “Five men accused in Siem Reap gang rape” (September 22), which reported that a girl was raped by her boyfriend and four others; and “Seven men charged in girl’s rape and murder to face trial in Kampong Cham” (September 23), which reported that a girl was raped and killed by members of a youth gang, one of whom is her neighbour and who claimed he had fallen in love with her.

After reading the two articles, I experienced shock and felt so sad about the two victims, especially the child who was murdered after being raped. These brutal activities are not isolated cases but have been occurring regularly in the recent past and perhaps longer. In 2002, a study by PSI (Population Services International) on sexual relationships revealed sex workers in Phnom Penh were often victims of gang rape, or bauk (Khmer for “plus”) .

In 2003, a study by GAD/C (Gender and Development for Cambodia) revealed that female students were also sometimes victims of bauk. In 2004, a study by CARE International showed that bauk was not limited to Phnom Penh, but occurs across Cambodia. In 2009, a study by an independent researcher revealed that over 10 percent of a sample of young men not in a stable relationship had perpetrated bauk with a sex worker in the last three months.

We should urge the police and the courts to deal severely with the perpetrators of these two recent youth gang rape cases if they are found guilty. Note that the two cases seem copy-and-pasted from bauk cases that many youth perpetrators have learned and used against female sex workers.

In my opinion, police have failed to act in cases where sex workers have claimed they are gang raped. Not only do police fail to act in the event of bauk but sex-workers fear to bring charges, as they fear the police reaction – including arrest for “illegal business under the trafficking law”– even while the law remains silent on the issue of voluntary sex work.

In the past, when police cracked down on brothels, massage parlours, guest houses and hotels, police arrested the sex workers but allowed the men to go free.

The arrest of rapists and jail with so-called “re-education” is not sufficient. We call for the government, donors, youth workers and human rights groups to increase their interventions to change men’s attitude about bauk. Critically, the issue has to be raised through awareness in the school curriculum and outreach activities. We all have a responsibility to change the attitude of our young men so that violence against women and girls is actively discouraged.

Tong Soprach
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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