Beer Seller Allegedly Gang Raped in K Cham

Kompong Cham Provincial Court yesterday charged a 25-year-old taxi driver with colluding with three men who allegedly raped a 30-year-old beer seller in the early hours of Tuesday morning, officials said.

Hong Eang Lim was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly being hired to drive three customers and the victim from a restaurant in Kompong Cham City to a sugarcane farm in Koh Sotin district where she was raped at 12:30 am, said Bum Chhoeurn, bureau chief of the provincial police anti-human trafficking office.

“He confessed that he was hired to drive the three men,” Mr Chhoeurn said. “But he did not confess to rape.”

The three alleged rapists, who remain at large, were served by the victim at Samai Tomnoeub restaurant and later met her and a co-worker for drinks at another place, he said. After her friend was driven home, the victim agreed to go for a meal, but was instead taken to a farm and raped, he added.

“The victim said that three men lured and tricked her into going to have porridge, but in reality the men raped her at a sugar cane farm,” he said, noting that the woman, who was dropped off by Koh Sotin district ferry, filed a complaint in the morning.

Deputy provincial prosecutor Moung Sarin said the taxi driver was charged after questioning and put in pretrial detention at the provincial prison yesterday.

Thy Somalai, provincial investigator for rights group Adhoc, said slightly more rapes occurred this year in the province, with 32 cases from January to November, compared to 2009. “Beer women are easily cheated by rapists,” she said.

Sharon Wilkinson, former country director of Care International, said the NGO worked with the Women Affairs and Interior Ministries as well as breweries and beer outlets to protect sellers vulnerable to violence and sexual harassment. “As in all workplaces, there must be zero-tolerance” to harassment, she said.

A perception among men drinking beer that female workers should be sexually available increases the risk of sexual abuse, she said. “That idea and understanding needs to change.” Hotlines and police teams to respond to violence in the work place, as well as networks for the empowerment of beer sellers, are being formed, she added.

(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)



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