Police in Battambang province said Thursday they had detained a 29-year-old man in connection with the murder of a traditional midwife who assisted an expectant mother who died from complications after childbirth.
Ly Salorm, of the remote and rural Rohak Kiri district, was arrested Monday and referred to provincial police headquarters on Wednesday, according to district police chief Ser Thy.
The body of the victim, 66-year-old Heng Him, was found on June 4 lying in a grassy field with axe wounds to the head, neck, chest and feet, about 150 meters from her house in Phnom Piet village in Prek Chik commune, police officials said.
About four months ago, Ms Him had assisted in the delivery of a baby to Mr Salorm’s sister-in-law, who died a week later from complications from the delivery, according to the police chief.
Police had identified a second suspect, 41-year-old Khlaing Chork, who is believed to have hanged himself the day after the murder of the midwife.
“The case is a revenge case because the old midwife assisted in a childbirth that was not proper. After one week, the mother died so the family blamed the old midwife,” Mr Thy, the police chief, said.
Health officials say an average of five Cambodian women die every day from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, an alarming maternal mortality rate, which has not decreased in recent years. Often mothers experience internal hemorrhaging and anemia for which treatment is still scare in rural areas.
District Governor Pich Malay said Thursday that the area is remote and providing adequate care to young mothers is very
“We are very sorrowful that our villagers have lost a Khmer traditional midwife who used to deliver babies in the remote areas for a long time,” he said.
“Our village is near the mountains and in the jungle so pregnancies can be very difficult if they do not send mothers in advance to the commune hospital or the district referring hospital. Some women give birth at nighttime,” he added.