Three people were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on child sex-trafficking charges on Monday after a 13-year-old girl complained to police she had been chained up, confined and raped.
According to Anti-Human Trafficking police chief Keo Thea, two of the accused are the victim’s aunts, who had taken care of the girl following the death of her parents.
They allegedly charged the third suspect $1,000 to take the victim to a hotel last year and rape her.
Police said the victim reported the attack after recently refusing to go with the same man again, before last week escaping from the house in Chraing Chamreh commune where she was being held.
“Both female suspects are charged with confinement and coercing a child into prostitution, and the man is charged with purchasing sex from a minor,” Thea said.
Yesterday, all three suspects were taken to the location of the girl’s alleged imprisonment, where police video showed what were purportedly the chains used to hold her.
The two aunts, identified as Chea Tina, 27, and Chea Sros, 32, face sentences of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $2,500.
The accused rapist, named as Chhim Chhaily, 36, faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a similar fine.
Sorn Sophal, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Social Affairs Department, yesterday said police had sent the victim to his department for “care and consultation”.
According to Lim Mony, deputy head of the women and children section at rights group Adhoc, cases of family-based child sex trafficking such as this remain a persistent headache for under-funded anti-trafficking police.
“This kind of incident remains an issue of great concern to anti-human trafficking authorities, which still face financial problems launching investigations,” she said.
The bust comes less than two months after a report from the International Justice Mission (IJM) asserted that the child sex trade in Cambodia has been reduced to a fraction of what it once was.
In that report, the IJM said just 2.2 per cent of sex workers in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Riep were under 18 years old, with less than 0.1 per cent under 15.
According to the report, that represents a huge gain from the early 2000s, when children were openly bought for sex in the street.
Yet critics of the report, such as Agape International Missions executive director Donald Brewster, suggested the trade, while diminished, had simply moved more underground.