A 22-year-old woman was found dead in Kampot province yesterday with her head nearly severed in what police said appears to be an attempted rape. Police have no suspects in the case.
Leng Thai, a farmer, was killed sometime Wednesday night or yesterday morning, and her bloody body was discovered in a rice field 100 meters behind her house in Kompong Trach district, said Russei Khang Lech commune police chief Suon Toeng.
Ms Thai’s family last saw her Wednesday night, and when she did not appear yesterday morning they discovered a trail of blood leading from a spot 10 meters behind their home to her body, which was almost completely unclothed.
“The offender dropped the victim’s body in the rice field after he brutally killed her,” Mr Toeng said.
An unknown weapon had cut the victim’s neck very deeply, he said.
Kong Sokhorn, the provincial police chief for the serious crimes bureau, said it appeared that the person who killed Ms Thai attempted to rape her. But, he said, a medical examination by a doctor and police did not find signs that the rape was carried out.
“Her body was without clothes, and we conclude this case happened because of an attempt to rape,” he said.
Police suspect that Ms Thai fended off the sexual assault and the assailant killed her to prevent her from reporting the crime to police, he said.
“The action of murder was very brutal. Her neck was almost cut through,” he said.
This year, police in Kampot have investigated two rape-murder cases as well as two murders involving attempted rapes, he said.
Police have arrested people in three of those cases, but have not yet identified a suspect in Ms Thai’s murder, he said.
“It is hard to investigate. It is not easy,” he said. “We cannot stop [searching] even though it is the holiday.”
Mr Toeng said that 2,000 families live in the village, complicating what is already a difficult investigation.
“We wonder why no one heard the sound of her shouting for help,” he said.
Lim Mony, the women’s program officer for rights group Adhoc, said attempted rape is just as brutal as the act itself.
“Even though it’s an attempt to rape, murders are all very brutal actions,” she added.
So far this year, the country has seen a high number of shocking violent crimes against women, she said.
Adhoc said last month that it had tallied 26 rape-murders in the first half of the year. Rights group Licadho recorded seven.
The Cambodia Daily has reported on 13 rape-murder cases nationwide so far this year and seven arrests for rape and murder.
Mu Sochua, an SRP lawmaker for Kampot, said that sexual violence against women is a problem in Cambodia that is not condemned by society as a whole and often not taken seriously. She said that television comedians, for example, frequently make light of sexual assault.
“We have no awareness about how our attitude about sexuality that can lead to the interpretation that women are weak or to be assaulted,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)