Police in Prey Veng province said yesterday they were searching for four suspects in the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl in Peak Chor district’s Svay Phlos commune.
Adding to the gang rapes on four young women in Battambang and Kratie provinces this month, the 12-year-old girl was attacked on April 19. It marks the 19th reported child rape so far this year.
Police have not identified the four men who took the girl away from a Khmer New Year celebration and raped her in a rice field, said Chea Bona, chief of a district social affairs office.
The girl’s father discovered the men in the act of attacking his daughter, Mr Bona said, adding that they ran away when he arrived at the scene, leaving behind a motorbike.
“The district police have identified three other suspects after meeting with the parents of the suspect whose motorbike is being kept at the police station,” he said.
Lay Im, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, criticized police for not yet arresting the men.
“The police have made some actions but it was very slow,” Ms Im said, adding that she was concerned that as time passed the case will become more difficult to investigate and the suspects would remain free.
District police chief Suon Savath said the investigation is ongoing but declined to comment on the case in any detail.
Bith Kimhong, the director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking bureau, said official numbers on reported rape cases, including child and gang rapes, had yet to be compiled for April.
“It won’t be reported until the end of this month,” he said.
Lim Mony, a human rights coordinator of Adhoc, said the common practice of authorities substituting cash payment deals for criminal charges against rapists has sent a message that rape is not a serious crime.