Authorities in Kampong Speu province arrested a man who practised traditional healing arts on Saturday for allegedly raping one of his patients, police said yesterday.
According to Orn Yuthong, deputy police chief of Oral district, suspect Khet Neang, 37, was arrested after the victim’s mother alerted police to her daughter’s rape. The suspect is now being held in pre-trial detention.
“We arrested him when he came to the victim’s house,” Yuthong confirmed.
This case was not the first time a traditional healer has taken advantage of his position of power to sexually abuse a patient.
In 2015, a healer was arrested in Pursat province after being accused of raping a patient. In 2013, a healer in Mondulkiri province was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl. At least four other healers were tried in court for rape and sexual abuse that year.
But experts say it’s often difficult for victims to speak out because they have little faith that action will be taken.
“In cases where traditional healers abuse the relationship of trust with their patients, the situation is made even more complex because their authority is spiritual and they are not regulated in the same way as conventional medical practitioners,” said Sarah Knibbs, UN Women deputy representative.
“Such people are respected by the community, so it is very hard for victims to disclose abuse.”
Ali Al Nasani, Cambodia country director for the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which works on issues of gender-based violence, says the government is not collecting adequate data on the problem.