The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Tuesday sentenced a man to seven years in jail for raping his nine-year-old step-daughter, child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) said.
The court also ordered Deab Det to pay 1.2 million riel ($3,000) in compensation, it said, adding that Det’s trial was held on November 21 and he was arrested by Preah Sihanouk police at his home on February 6.
APLE said the offender raped his step-daughter three times and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. No longer able to tolerate the abuse, the girl fled to her uncle’s house to report the rapes.
“The girl was rescued the same day and referred to a temporary safe place. After being given shelter for four months, she is now under the care of her biological father and his wife, going to school, and receiving psychological support services on her journey to recovery,” APLE said.
San Sony, the victim’s lawyer and a member of APLE Cambodia, lamented that the punishment wasn’t more severe.
“According to Article 241 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code, this crime is punishable with seven to 15 years imprisonment. The offender received only a seven-year sentence, even though the vile crime was committed by the step-father himself.
“He deserves the maximum punishment to prevent this from happening again,” Sony said.
In May last year, a man was arrested in Preah Sihanouk after he broke into a house and raped a 10-year-old girl and killed her and her younger brother while their parents were away. The case sparked outrage across the country.
Cheap Sotheary, the Adhoc provincial coordinator for rape cases involving children, said crimes like these are often perpetrated by men with low or no formal education, who consume pornography and abuse alcohol. She said many of these cases involve irresponsible parents who leave their children home alone.
Sotheary said it is difficult to prevent many of these abuses as they often happen in the secrecy of a household. An effective way of preventing abuse, she said, is to train young girls at school.
“Educators at school must teach young girls how to protect themselves when they are alone at home. Girls must learn to seek help immediately if the situation becomes uncomfortable and must not be afraid to tell on a family member,” she said.