A moto-taxi driver was arrested in Phnom Penh on Tuesday for raping a mentally disabled girl he spotted while waiting for customers near the Sokha hotel early that morning, police said on Wednesday.
Mean Sophal, 34, who regularly transports staff to and from the luxury hotel in Chroy Changva district, noticed the 14-year-old orphan as she was searching for saleable scrap in the area at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, said Ek Sereyvuth, a deputy district police chief.
“She was scavenging alone,” Mr. Sereyvuth said, explaining that the child lived with her aunt on a fishing boat on the Tonle Sap river nearby.
He said Mr. Sophal lured her to a vacant vendor’s shack along the road. “The suspect asked the child to go to a quiet place where there was a shack, then he started to hug and kiss her, and then raped her,” he said.
Mr. Sophal was arrested at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday after the girl’s aunt told police what had happened, according to Mr. Sereyvuth.
“On Tuesday morning, the victim felt very weak and could not go out as normal. Then her aunt asked her why she felt sick and she told her aunt about the rape,” he said.
“We knew who the suspect was after we got the complaint from the victim’s aunt.”
Mr. Sereyvuth said the moto-taxi driver admitted to raping the child under questioning at the district police station on Wednesday morning and would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to be charged today.
Chhorn Sokunthea, women’s and children’s rights coordinator for Adhoc, said the rights group recorded 238 rape cases across the country last year, up from 201 in 2014—an 18.4 percent increase. In all but 55 of the 238 cases, she said, the victims were minors.
By way of explaining the increase, Ms. Sokunthea pointed to the same factors the rights group has long blamed for the crime, namely pornography and substance abuse.
“There are a few factors that made the numbers of rapes increase, including people watching sex movies, using drugs and drinking too much alcohol,” she said. “And sometimes parents leave their children alone.”