Rights Workers To Visit Mysterious Mute Woman

Local rights NGO Adhoc will travel on Jan 20 to meet a young woman that Ratanakkiri province villagers believe has returned after disappearing in the forest 18 years ago.

Pen Bonnar, Adhoc provincial director, said Friday that he will travel to O’Yadaw district to meet the woman believed by villagers to be 27-year-old Phnong ethnic minority villager Rocham Phoeung, who vanished into the jungle in 1989 at the age of 10 with her six-year-old sister.

When the woman was discovered in the forest on Jan 13, villagers said she was in the company of a naked man, covered in tattoos and holding a sword. Villagers were unable to capture the man and because the woman has not spoken, her identity and past remain a mystery.

Rocham Kamphy, 25, who be­lieves he is the woman’s brother, said Jan 19 that she ap­pears to be more settled.

“She is getting better today, she doesn’t want to run to the forest. Yesterday, she wanted to run to the forest,” he said Friday.

She also has refused to eat rice porridge, which is the only food the impoverished family can afford to give her.

“She just wants to eat meat,” he said, adding the family hopes an NGO will take her to a hospital.

He added that when the family took the woman to a local Buddhist monk on Jan 18 so that he could sprinkle holy water on her, the woman had tried to rip off her new clothing and run away.

On Jan 19, however, she was discovering the joys of television.

The family does not have a generator and can only use a car battery to run a TV for an hour a day, he said. The woman is now communicating in grunts, he added.

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