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Vitriol no rarity in personal disputes

Vitriol no rarity in personal disputes

SINCE the acid attack on 17-year-old Tath Marina allegedly by the wife of the

Secretary of State at the Council Ministers, Svay Sitha, and his bodyguards, the

authorities have pledged to crack down on acid sales in an effort to prevent

similar outrages.

However a survey by the human rights group Licadho of

the Khmer press since Marina's attack has revealed that attacks with acid are

still prevalent and the results devastating.

Since the December attack on

Tath Marina there have been more than 20 similar incidents reported in the

press. None of the attacks has so far ended in prosecution and only one arrest

was reported.

Most of the victims have suffered severe injuries. A week

after the Tath Marina attack a 30-year-old man in Phnom Penh was blinded by his

wife.

About the same time Srey Pov, 17, had acid thrown in her face by

her lover's wife. A week later Lim Mey, 26, was blinded and disfigured by her

husband in a drunken rage in Toul Kork. In January this year Chen Sophy, 18, was

disfigured when leaving a restaurant where she worked; the attacker was the wife

of a man she had once had a relationship with.

Occasionally the attacks

prove fatal. Doung Chanmakara, 17, went off to meet friends on New Year's Day.

He was kidnapped and a $50,000 ransom was demanded. The family could not raise

the money. When his body was later found his head had been destroyed with

acid.

Sours Im, a 34-year-old farmer, also died from injuries in an acid

attack. He was known to be violent towards his wife and her family. In

retaliation his wife purchased one liter of acid for 1000 riel and poured it

over him when he was lying down. He was found dead in his house.

It is

not only perceived wrongdoers who are attacked; even a family association is

enough in some cases. Two brothers, Dang Da, 12, and Dang Dy, 10, were attacked

along with their 33-year-old mother, Long Chanthol, by their father's first wife

in a fit of jealousy. Chanthol died from her injuries, Da suffered serious burns

to his face, chest and back while Dy was less seriously injured suffering burns

to the side of his head.

Jealousy was an overwhelming motive in the

attacks. A young couple, Kim Ly, 26, and Chanda Vy, 22, had been engaged for

only seven days when they had acid thrown at them as they left a house in

central Phnom Penh by a man riding past on a motorcycle. It was reported that

the perpetrator was unhappy that Chanda had not accepted his advances. Chanda

suffered extensive injuries to her entire face and left leg.

Rivalry was

another common theme. Chourm Heang, female, 18, was attacked by a fellow

prostitute over who would service a client at the brothel they worked at. She

suffered injuries to her right eye and face. This was the only case in which an

arrest was made.

One other case involved the authorities but did not end

in arrest. Thong Bun Nath, 39, was doused with acid by her former husband after

he went to his wife's house, (a brothel) to try to obtain some of the $10,000

she had received for a land sale.

He told police she refused his request

and tried to throw a bucket of acid at him but instead tipped it on herself when

he pushed her away to try to protect himself. He told police he would provide

her some assistance if she withdrew the complaint.

And finally,

desperation was another motive for attacks.

Koch Pich, 53, was blinded and

his son Seng Bunthan, 20, slightly injured after his pregnant 24-year-old

step-daughter reacted to a long history of beatings, torture and rape attempts

by pouring acid on him as he slept underneath his house near his son.

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