Two women were arrested in Phnom Penh on Monday for selling their 13-year-old niece to a local man as a sex slave, repeatedly shackling her to the floor of their house over the course of a year, municipal anti-human trafficking police chief Keo Thea said Tuesday.
Mr. Thea said that sisters Chea Sros, 32, and Chea Tina, 27, were arrested at the house in Russei Keo district on Monday evening, shortly after his officers received a complaint directly from the 13-year-old girl.
He said police later apprehended Chhim Chhay Ly, 36, for paying the sisters $1,000 to have sex with the girl on multiple occasions.
“The two sisters, who are the victim’s aunts, shackled the girl with metal chains, preventing her from escaping,” Mr. Thea said. “The case first occurred about a year ago, and has been repeatedly occurring up until the day of the arrest.”
“The two suspects repeatedly shackled and unlocked [the girl], forcing the girl to have sex with the man in exchange for $1,000,” he said, adding that police would send the two women and the man to court today.
If found guilty of illegal confinement, procuring child prostitution and purchasing child sex, they will face up to 15 years in jail each.
On Tuesday morning, the Cambodia News Channel showed footage of Mr. Thea’s officers arresting the trio, and of police forcing the 13-year-old—a surgical mask covering part of her face—to reenact being shackled to the floor of the wooden house.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said he hoped authorities would pursue strong charges against the suspects, and that his organization wanted to provide legal assistance to the victim.
“It’s a very brutal case because the female minor was not confined in an ordinary way, but was tortured by being shackled for the sex trade,” he said.
“There have been some cases where victims were only confined in a room, but never shackled like this.”