Media Scares Mystery Woman: Assumed Brother

A man who believes he is the brother of a young woman found in the jungles of Ratanakkiri province urged restraint from national and international journalists Sunday, saying the woman is distressed by their constant attention.

The woman has made headlines on television and in newspapers around the world since she was first reportedly discovered in the forests of O’Yadaw district Jan 13, naked and accompanied by a tattooed, naked man holding a sword.

Reporters who have flocked to O’Yadaw village and are taking constant photographs and video footage of the woman are causing her alarm, said Rocham Kamphy, 25.

“We want to ask journalists to stop taking videos and photographs of her because she is so scared,” he said. “She has changed her facial expression, she is not happy and she does not want to eat rice.”

Rocham Kamphy maintained that the woman is also upset be­cause some journalists are not respecting the hilltribe tradition of giving money to reunited families.

Villagers believe the woman is 27-year-old Rocham Phoeung who vanished into the jungle in 1989 at the age of 10, with her 6-year-old sister. But they have been unable to confirm this because she has not spoken since she emerged from the forest.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights organization Adhoc, said that the local villagers’ scrutiny is also making the woman stressed.

Villagers are showing up at night to see the woman, making it difficult for her and the family sheltering her to get enough sleep.

“She must be taken to the hospital and then to a calm place to relax, or the crowds will make her have mental problems,” Pen Bon­nar said.

Hing Sakunthea, director of the provincial referral hospital, said the family has agreed to send the woman for treatment once ceremonies intended to restore her spirit have been performed.

Rocham Kamphy said the rituals will conclude Thursday.


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