Village ‘Respected’ Accused Rapist Despite Known Incest

An elderly farmer accused of raping a 6-year-old girl last week had a sexual relationship with his grown daughter that spanned decades and was never questioned, police and community members said on Wednesday.

Nou Sinan, 76, was arrested at his home in Toek Phos district’s Chieb commune on Sunday after the parents of his 6-year-old neighbor filed a complaint accusing him of raping their mentally handicapped daughter in December.

The Kompong Chhnang provincial court charged Mr. Sinan with rape of a minor on Tuesday morning, after he confessed to the crime, according to deputy provincial police chief Pol Vuthy.

The suspect also told police he had raped another mentally ill woman in the village “several times,” district officers said, although he has not yet been charged over that alleged crime because neither the woman nor her family have filed a complaint with authorities.

“We only filed one complaint to the provincial police about the child rape,” deputy district police chief Liv Bunsong said on Wednesday, adding that his officers had mentioned the other assault to provincial officials.

According to officials and villagers, it was common knowledge that Mr. Sinan had a sexual relationship with his daughter, now in her 40s, though no one considered the incest indicative of bad character.

Deputy district governor Chea Sarun said officials were aware of the incestuous relationship, but had decided to treat the couple as they would any other.

“When he first moved here, we did not know his wife was actually his daughter. But later on, we found out,” Mr. Sarun said, adding that villagers discovered the incest about three months after the pair moved to the commune in 1993.

The rarely enforced Monogamy Law, which prohibits bigamy, incest and adultery, was not ratified until 2006, at which point Mr. Sinan and his daughter were an accepted part of the community, according to Mr. Sarun.

“The law does not allow the father to take the daughter to be a wife,” Mr. Sarun admitted, while arguing that because the pair had been living as a couple for years, they should be left alone.

Ly Thannet, director of the district women’s affairs department, said the incestuous relationship came to an end when the daughter married another man in 2010.

“The suspect stopped having sex with [her] because his daughter got a husband,” she said, adding that before being charged with the rape of a minor, Mr. Sinan was a respected community member.

“Myself and others in the village respected him because he had no problems with anyone… and he always respected others,” Ms. Thannet said. She conceded that it was possible the incest had not been consensual but said that because the daughter never filed a complaint, no one thought to interfere.

“Maybe she didn’t want to file [a] complaint to the police because the rapist is her father,” she said, adding that she had not looked into the matter because she only assumed her role three months ago and because both father and daughter “appeared to be living happily now.”

kimsay@cambodiadaily.com

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