Clad in white with her head shaved, Tang Kim looks like any of the other Buddhist nuns praying by her side. But within, she suffers deep wounds. \nShe is a "killing fields" survivor searching for internal healing, having lived with the trauma of gang rape the Khmer Rouge inflicted on her nearly 30 years ago. \nFor the first time, her story is being told in a 30-minute documentary about rape of women by the Khmer Rouge, who prided themselves on adhering to a strict code of sexual conduct during their otherwise brutal rule from 1975 to 1979. \nThe film, by the genocide research group Documentation Center of Cambodia, offers another piece of evidence to a long-delayed tribunal to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity. \nThe ultra-communist regime attempted to introduce radical policies, leading to the death of some 1.7 million Cambodians from starvation, overwork, disease and execution. \nThe incidence of rape during the Khmer Rouge era was widely known, but has so far received little publicity or research, in part because survivors are reluctant to tell their stories, said Youk Chhang, director of the documentation center. \nTang Kim, 51, decided to become a nun at a pagoda in Kampong Chhnang Province in central Cambodia in January. \n"I'm happy living here. At the pagoda, I hear only the sounds of chanting every day. Everyone strives to seek the truth" by praying, she says in the film. \nBefore entering the monastery, the peasant woman felt that only revenge against her tormentors could help ease her pain. \nShe recounts in the film that three days after the Khmer Rouge killed her first husband in May 1975, she and seven other women were rounded up by the regime's soldiers to be raped and then murdered near a village in Kampong Chhnang. \nLIKE ANIMALS \nThree of them "pulled me away like animals tearing at their prey. They raped me so violently that I was bleeding profusely," she said, adding that she also expected to be murdered. \nBut she said she managed to flee when the soldiers, after raping her, set about killing a pregnant woman whose abdomen they cut open to take out the fetus. \n"Only if you experienced it could you know how fearful it was, knowing your death was coming," Tang Kim says. \nHer story speaks of the hypocrisy of a movement which laid down a strict code of conduct for its adherents and all those it enslaved. \nAngkar, the regime's faceless but terrifying ruling machine, banned romance, forced many men and women into mass marriages and tortured or killed those who engaged in unsanctioned sexual relations. \nThe rules could be evaded, however, by accusing women of being the regime's enemies and thus subject to rape and execution, Youk Chhang said. \nHe said the center has so far identified some 168 cases of rape committed against women during the murderous regime. But Tang Kiom is the first survivor to have her experiences properly documented. \n"We've found a few others but they did not come forward to tell their stories because of a fear of shame," he said. \nRachana Phat, the film's director, said she had learned about the case -- but without knowing that Tang Kim was still alive -- from the center's files, began her search and, by coincidence, ran into Tang Kim last August. \nShe said Tang Kim confirmed the killing of seven other women. But Rachana said the woman was reluctant to talk about her own agony until she was convinced how important it would be for educating a new Cambodian generation about the extent of the Khmer Rouge's inhumanity. \nIn the film, Tang Kim says she didn't tell her story to her second husband, whom she married in 1980 but left four years later. \nShe cries as she recalls sucking juice from a cornstalk to survive during her escape. \nvindictive \nStruggling for reconciliation, she nonetheless admits she can never stop feeling vindictive toward her Khmer Rouge attackers. \nIf any are still alive, she says, she would like them to be "taken to be killed so that I can have some peace of mind." \n"Blood must be paid by blood. I want my dignity back," she says, her voice rising in anger. \nYouk Chhang said that the film would be released on Monday and shown with English, French and Japanese subtitles. It will also be screened every day for visitors at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison in Phnom Penh where some 16,000 people were jailed before execution.
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