Government and NGO officials said yesterday they remain in the dark over exactly how many rapes have occurred in Cambodia during the past year.
Sy Define, secretary of state at the Women’s Affairs Ministry, said that although rapes continue to occur, there are no precise statistics to map violence against women. “Violence happens, but there is no data at the national level so we don’t know if it is increasing or decreasing,” Ms Define said on the sidelines of a workshop to prevent violence.
Interior Ministry statistics differed from data culled from rights groups such as Adhoc and Licadho, and newspaper reports, she said. The Women’s Affairs Ministry is now seeking funds to create a task force responsible for collecting reliable national statistics on violence against women, Ms Define added. “A strategy is needed to gather data.”
Ros Sopheap, executive director of NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said that there were no studies or data on whether rapes were increasing or not. “If research happens then we can find strategies to deal with this,” Ms Sopheap said, noting that rapists needed to be tracked and punished under the law.
“This is the key, otherwise we let the perpetrators continue to do bad.”
However, Lim Mony, deputy director of Adhoc’s women and children’s rights program, said that the group’s statistics on rapes this year, to be released next month, pointed to an increase. “I am not sure yet which ages were most affected because the data is not yet divided,” she said.
Adhoc recorded 300 cases of rape from January to July this year and 195 cases involving minors. Since July, The Cambodia Daily has reported at least 23 child rapes and five rape murders.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak and Bith Kimhong, director of the ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, said yesterday that they did not have rape statistics at hand.
The ministry said in September that 95 children under 15, 46 teenagers aged 15 to 17 years old and 89 adults were raped during the first six months of the year.
Licadho recorded 203 rapes of minors across 14 provinces from January to November.
(Additional reporting by Cheng Sokhorng)