Tat Marina, the 16-year-old acid burn victim, is scheduled to leave for the US today for treatment, family members said this week.
The Shriners burn unit in the state of Massachusetts, which specializes in young victims, has offered to help treat her, said Tat Sequindo, a brother who lives in the US.
“Her ears will be replaced [reconstructed], she will have more skin grafts and her chin will be lifted,” Tat Sequindo said. “She has some hope.”
Tat Marina, who was allegedly attacked by the jealous wife of a government official, said Thursday that she is happy for the opportunity to go to the US for treatment and hopes US doctors can help bring back her beauty. “But I’m not clear yet how much they can help me.”
Tat Marina, a former karaoke video performer and model, was yanked to the ground, beaten until she was unconscious and doused with nitric acid in an attack on Dec 5 near the Olympic market, according to police and witnesses. She suffered burns on her head, back, chest and wrists, and a doctor in Phnom Penh said she almost died.
An arrest warrant in the case was issued for Khoun Sophal, the wife of Svay Sitha, an undersecretary of state at the Council of Ministers. But no arrest has been made. Democracy experts call the case an example of the culture of impunity in Cambodia.
Tat Marina said Thursday that she has recovered enough to be able to sing and dance “a little.” But she and family members said her mobility is affected by her injuries and skin grafts. She still has plastic plugs to keep her nose from closing.
“I will come back to Cambodia again whenever my face looks nice,” she said. “From now on, I would like to have fun again, I do not want to be sad anymore. I used to be able to make my friends laugh until their stomachs ached.”
(Additional reporting by Jeff Smith)