The release of two reports in Phnom Penh on Monday give voice to ethnic minority survivors of sexualized violence perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge and marginalized ethnic Vietnamese people living in Kompong Chhnang province.
The Cambodian Defenders’ Project carried out research on the impact that forced marriage, rape and other forms of sexualized violence had on Vietnamese, Khmer Krom, Cham Muslim and Khmer Islam communities, for which “virtually no information” has been gathered and in a bid to push for “justice, support services and memorialization of those passed.”
“Almost two thirds of the 105 respondents directly experienced some form of sexual violence during the regime (predominantly as forced marriage) and a large majority had witnessed or heard about some form of sexual violence towards others, most commonly rape,” notes the executive summary of “Sexual Violence Against Ethnic Minorities During the Khmer Rouge Regime,” which was written by Rochelle Braaf.
The study found that 67 percent of the ethnic minority respondents were asked by Khmer Rouge officials to marry; those who refused were threatened. Marriages were often held at gunpoint and consummation was frequently carried out under duress and the watch of guards.
“The study data documented 56 witness reports of rape of ethnic minority women and girls, often as gang rapes perpetrated by multiple rapists,” the report says.
Some said rape victims would be executed and mutilated following their ordeal.
“While a few ethnic minority respondents continued to suffer some physical injury and pain from sexual violence they had experienced, much more common were psychological problems,” the report says.
The Kdei Karuna NGO, meanwhile, looked at the experiences of two floating communities of ethnic Vietnamese people in Kompong Chhnang province to offset a dearth of information about their lives prior to the Khmer Rouge regime.
The report is released in full Monday and, according to project officer Ly Rattanak, it will “disclose the history and experience of a Vietnamese group who were born and lived on the Tonle Sap river, contributing to more understanding of Vietnamese ethnic minority groups in Cambodia.”