- Title: CAMBODIA: AFTER YEARS OF WAR, GANG RAPE SCARS CAMBODIA
- Date: 18th May 2003
- Summary: (W3) PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (RECENT) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. LV/SLV OF PROSTITUTES ON STREETS SOLICITING FOR CUSTOMERS (2 SHOTS) 0.11 2. SLV IM THEA, PROSTITUTE, WALKING THROUGH STREETS 0.17 3. MCU (Khmer) IM THEA SAYING: "It is often with six to 10 men. They come out and then they have sex one by one. We have to be patient. If the men get unhappy, they beat us." 0.29 4. LV OF PROSTITUTES SOLICITING FOR CUSTOMERS ON STREETS 0.35 5. MCU (Khmer) IM THEA SAYING: "I have no intention to take revenge and I can't do it anyway, because I don't know where they are after the rape. Sometimes, they put me in the jungle somewhere, I get lost, I cry and then I have to find my way back home." 1.01 6. SLV OF IM THEA AND OTHER PROSTITUTES WALKING 1.06 7. SV INTERVIEW WITH MO SOCHUA, CAMBODIA'S WOMEN'S AFFAIRS MINISTER 1.11 8. MCU (English) MO SOCHUA SAYING: "I think the blame of the Khmer Rouge must stop at some point. We deal with the victims of gang rape. Can I say to one of these victims, sorry, but all this is caused by the Khmer Rouge?" 1.27 9. SLV/SV OF EXTERIOR OF OXFAM HONG KONG (2 SHOTS) 1.39 10. SV INTERVIEW WITH ROSANNA BARBERO, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, OXFAM HONG KONG IN CAMBODIA 1.43 11. MCU (English) BARBERO SAYING: "This is, this should sound alarm bells in the society, when young girls as young as 14 months have been raped. Women have been gang raped in schools, they have been gang raped in the fields, they have been gang raped on the way home from universities." 2.05 12. CU OF POSTER SHOWING PICTURES OF GIRLS WERE GANG RAPED (2 SHOTS) 2.17 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 2nd June 2003 13:00
- Location: PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
- Country: Cambodia
- Reuters ID: LVA9TC8S1S9RIM2O6URC1NCT8E5F
- Story Text: After years of war, now sex violence scars Cambodia.
After nine months working the streets of the Cambodian
capital, Im Thea says she is used to being gang raped.
"It is often with six to 10 men. They come out and then
they have sex one by one. We have to be patient. If the men
get unhappy, they beat us," the 21-year-old prostitute says
matter-of-factly, standing on her patch under a flickering
street lamp just yards from the impoverished Southeast Asian
nation's Independence Monument.
"I have no intention to take revenge and I can't do it
anyway, because I don't know where they are after the rape.
Sometimes, they put me in the jungle somewhere, I get lost, I
cry and then I have to find my way back home," she added.
The world's oldest profession is far from new in
war-scarred Cambodia, but fuelled by a destructive mixture of
poverty, desperation and a moral vacuum left by decades of
conflict, many young Khmers are turning to sexual violence for
After the horror of the 1970s Khmer Rouge genocide, in
which 1.7 million people are believed to have died, hope
returned a decade ago with a huge U.N. reconstruction
Cambodia is now at peace and fairly stable, but in a
salutary example to other countries being "rebuilt" by the
international community, there appears to be something rotten
in its society.
The economy may be slowly growing and the roads have fewer
potholes, but evidence is emerging of an increasingly
desperate dog-eat-dog world where the vulnerable, in
particular women, count for little.
For the first time, some are even saying the usual
explanation for all Cambodia's ills -- the legacy of Pol Pot's
brutal ultra-Maoist regime -- is wearing thin.
"I think the blame of the Khmer Rouge must stop at some
point," says Women's Affairs Minister Mu Sochua, who as a
mother of three teenage girls has personal as well as
professional concern about what she says is an alarming
escalation of sexual violence.
"We deal with the victims of gang rape. How can I say to
one of these victims, Sorry, but all this is caused by the
Instead, she says, it is time Cambodians started to treat
those less fortunate than themselves as human beings.
The government is aware of the increase in all types of
violence against women, of which the gang rape of prostitutes
is one of the latest and most extreme forms.
A new domestic violence bill has its final parliamentary
hearing later this month to back up existing prostitution laws
which do not prohibit a woman selling her body.
But reformers are battling against deeply ingrained social
attitudes in which sex workers are regarded as somehow
subhuman, a perception highlighted in a recent study by Gender
and Development in Cambodia, an aid organisation.
Not only did nearly 60 percent of male students
interviewed say they knew of friends who had been involved in
gang-raping prostitutes, but only 13 percent of men and women
saw it as morally wrong because the prostitute is not
The statement: "Gang rape is for fun. It does not hurt
anybody because prostitutes see many men" was ticked by 12
percent of respondents. A similar proportion said gang rape of
a prostitute was okay -- as long as the men all paid up at the
Under the banner "Women's Agenda for Change", charities
such as Oxfam Hong Kong (OHK) are teaching prostitutes about
their rights and encouraging victims of violence to come
"This is, this should sound alarm bells in the society,
when young girls as young as 14 months have been raped. Women
have been gang raped in schools, they have been gang raped in
the fields, they have been gang raped on the way home from
universities," says OHK Cambodia's country director Rosanna
But with a widening gulf between the rich and the
desperately poor, as well as the absence of any real social
safety net in Cambodia's largely privatised economy,
campaigners fear brutality can only rise as poverty drives
more women into the sex industry, and more men out of
Add that to a corrupt and unconcerned police force --
prosecutions for sexual violence of any kind are rare -- and
the problem looks like it is here to stay.
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