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‘Trafficked’ woman pleads for repatriation from Saudi Arabia

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In an online video, a Cambodian woman pled for government help to get her home. FACEBOOK

‘Trafficked’ woman pleads for repatriation from Saudi Arabia

Cambodian authorities are searching for Ly Rohimas, a 26-year-old Cambodian Muslim woman from Memot district in Tbong Khmum province, who has claimed to be a victim of human trafficking.

Authorities were alerted to her situation after she made a plea to Prime Minister Hun Sen to bring her home in a Facebook post on December 28.

She claimed to have been cheated by a broker in 2017 and sent to Saudi Arabia, according to a senior police officer in the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau.

Bureau director Chiv Phally told The Post on December 28 that officials are trying to contact the victim who has a Facebook account registered as Rohimah binti Mohamad Aly.

An official from the Cambodian embassy in Saudi Arabia is also currently searching for her, Phally said, as well as another group of officials who have been tasked with searching for relatives in her hometown.

“However, we don’t yet have any leads on her whereabouts. We are trying to get her back to Cambodia,” he said.

In a short video clip posted on her Facebook account, Rohimas described being trafficked and held captive.

“I am living in Saudi Arabia. I was cheated by [a] broker who ‘sold’ me to Saudi Arabia in 2017. There is no authority or organisation to intervene to get me out of this country.

“About my living condition . . . [the] house owner beats me almost every day, but I cannot get help from anyone. The house owner took away all of my personal documents. I have not received any salary or allowance. Moreover, I am prohibited from going out to meet anyone.

“I am an orphan who lived with my old grandmother and two younger siblings. I left my house [in Cambodia] to work [with the hope of] feeding my family from a young age. I didn’t expect that they would take me or sell [me] like this,” she said.

Othman Hassan, Senior Minister in charge of Special Missions who is also a Muslim leader in Cambodia, could not be reached for comment on December 29.

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights executive director Moeun Tola said that in some countries where Cambodian migrant workers are living, the rights and values of women are not respected.

He urged the government to prevent Cambodian citizens, particularly women, from going to work in these countries before bilateral agreements are established to protect them.

“I still cannot understand why, when we do not have a memorandum of understanding for Cambodians to work in certain countries, there are Cambodian migrant workers who are working illegally there.

“There is no clear policy, so these kinds of cases continue occurring. Why is there no clear action from the government [in response]?” he asked.

Tola urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and relevant authorities to follow-up on Rohimas’ case immediately. He said the government needs to rescue her from the abuse and bring her home.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour said on December 29 that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Cambodian embassy in Saudi Arabia were seeking information on where and how to intervene in order to return the victim to Cambodia.

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