Officials: Child Rape Rising, Convictions Rare

Child rape cases are on the rise throughout Cambodia at the same time that courts are continuing to fail to convict child rape suspects, Cambodian National Council for Children officials said Thursday at a meeting held to dis­cuss its five-year plan to eradicate child trafficking.

In the last six months, nine girls under 18 years old have been involved in human trafficking and rape cases, said Svay Rieng Provincial Deputy Sna Brayuth. Most offenders were not tried in criminal court.

“The rape case is rarely practiced according to law,” he said. “Offenders just pay a compensation to the victim, police and the court, and then they mediate. They shouldn’t mediate, they should receive punishment.”

Sna Brayuth blames victims’ hesitancy to report crimes on the humble nature of Cambodian society. Parents are often too em­bar­ras­sed to bring perpetrators to court.

“Our Khmer people are very shameful. They don’t go to the hospital for an examination, so we rarely have evidence against the offenders,” he said.

In the last six months, 993 children have left Cambodia to work as beggars in Vietnam, Sna Bra­yuth said. Vietnam has returned children on nine occasions, but there is little ebb in the flow of underage workers.

“There is a 258-km border between Vietnam and Cambodia. We can’t convince them all not to go to Vietnam,” Sna Brayuth said.

Seventeen rape cases were tried in the last six months, few of which were easily resolved, said Provincial Deputy Governor Sun Heng. Most victims initially were too embarrassed to complain to authorities and instead asked perpetrators for compensation.

Sun Heng said internal trafficking remains a problem, with 30,000 people leaving outer pro­vinces to work look for work in Phnom Penh.

The CNCC strategic plan aims to strengthen provincial anti-trafficking committees, as miscommunication between provincial and national authorities has limited the success of previous efforts.

Four NGOs currently fund anti-trafficking subcommittees in Sihanoukville and in Kompong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Battambang and Banteay Mean­chey provinces.


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