Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Rape increasing in Cambodia: Amnesty

AFP , PHNOM PENH

Rape of women and girls appears to be increasing in Cambodia and victims face stigma and get little justice, rights group Amnesty International said in a report to mark International Women’s Day.

The report, released yesterday, said there was a lack of comprehensive statistics on sexual violence in the country, but people who worked with victims believed rape was increasing and “a growing number of victims are children.”

“A growing number of rape reports, including against very young girls and gang rapes, fill Cambodian newspapers,” the report said.

“Most police, NGO [non-­governmental organization] workers and public officials working with the issue agree that rape is on the increase,” the report said.

The report said corruption and discrimination within the police and courts often prevented rape survivors from seeking justice and medical treatment, while the perpetrators mostly went unpunished.

“Dozens of survivors told us that they face extortion, ignorance and disbelief from officials whose job it should be to assist them and protect their rights,” Amnesty International’s Donna Guest said in a statement.

“For too many survivors of rape, the pursuit of justice and medical support adds further distress to the initial abuse,” she added.

A woman named Meas Veasna, who chose to speak out about her ordeal for the report, said authorities did little after she was drugged and raped by a Buddhist monk at a pagoda last year.

“I am feeling a lot of shame, and initially wanted to commit suicide because of what had happened. And although I reported the crime, no one has been brought to justice,” she said in the report.

Amnesty interviewed 30 females aged between 10 and 40 from across Cambodia and said most were too poor to afford medical treatment or pay the bribes demanded by police for them to take action.

Poor women and girls were especially vulnerable to sexual violence because they lacked power to defend themselves before and after an assault, Amnesty said.

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