Police are seeking two men suspected of raping a young woman
after a brazen abduction from a Phnom
Penh beer garden last week, in a crime rights workers
say is not uncommon in a growing culture of impunity.
The victim, who is 16 years old, was allegedly kidnapped by
two men at gunpoint from Soun Samneang beer garden around 1 am on Friday night,
according to her brother, Ra, who witnessed the abduction and asked that only
his first name be used.
Ra's account was corroborated by a police report and
testimony of another witness, who asked not to be named with the two men still
The men had been drinking at the beer garden earlier that
night, Ra said. They drank until the restaurant closed, and just as Ra's mother
arrived to pick up his sister, they returned in their car, a green Toyota
Corolla, brandishing pistols.
The two men, both in their twenties, pushed his sister and
mother into the car, Ra said in a recent interview from his apartment near Soun
Samneang, where he shares a room with guards and waitresses from the
He was unable to help because of the guns, Ra said.
"That night, they came," Ra said. "I was
fighting with them, and they said, 'Be careful of dying,' and they also pushed
me toward the car. I want these gangsters put in prison."
The kidnappers took the two women on National Road 6,
dropping the mother at the Japanese Friendship Bridge
in Phnom Penh,
Ra said, citing accounts of his sister and mother. They then took his sister to
Tek Meas guesthouse, on the Chroy Changva peninsula, where both men raped her,
Chamkar Mon district police said they have received a
complaint from the victim, who said she asked to use the phone of Tek Meas,
after the alleged assailants left her, taking her phone and her jewelry.
However, staff members at the Tek Meas guesthouse said
Monday they had no knowledge of the incident.
A night guard at the guesthouse, who declined to give his
name, said he was asleep by 11 pm that night and did not know two men had taken
a girl into a room.
"I know nothing. I heard nothing. I went to sleep as
usual," he said.
Everyone with knowledge of Friday's incident was afraid to
give his or her full name, for fear of reprisal.
The owner of the Soun Samneang beer garden, who gave her
first name, Neat, said she had helped the victim file a complaint.
"I'm worried about this kind of case happening again at
my restaurant, because the restaurant has no right to keep the guns of its
visitors," she said. It is not possible to know which guests have guns,
A coworker, Nuon, who is a beer promotion girl at Soun
Samneang, said she and other girls at the restaurant are now afraid for their
"Even the young gangsters have guns. That's why I'm
afraid," she said, adding that she was forced to continue working to earn
money and support her parents.
Ra said his sister and mother have gone into hiding.
Chamkar Mon District Police Chief Ouch Sokhorn said Monday
the two suspects had been identified, but he declined to provide further
details in the ongoing investigation.
However, Friday night's alleged crime was not an isolated
incident, and similar cases are not hard to find.
Another victim, Leak, 21, worked as an Angkor Beer promotion
girl last year at a similar beer garden in Phnom Penh. In May 2007 she was taken by
three men with a gun who forced her into their car and took her to another
guesthouse along National Road 6, not far from the Tek Meas.
"One man pointed the gun and forced me to get in the
car, and they brought me to a guesthouse," she said. "One man wore a
condom, but the other two did not. That's why I'm afraid of AIDS."
The event still haunts her, she said, and the memory of it
hurts. She never filed a complaint, and now regrets it, she said, because the
three men who raped her remain free.
Lim Mony, director of the women's department of the rights
group Adhoc, said criminals in Cambodia
look down on the police, their impunity a product of the inability of police to
fully protect the people.
"It shows that the honesty and dignity of the law are
low down," she said. "The police do not fully protect the safety of
Most important, she said, such abductions and rapes exhibit
a disregard for women, and especially women who work at night.
Nop Sarin Sreyroth, secretary-general of the Cambodian
Women's Crisis Center, said Friday night's case highlighted a worsening
problem, where offenders have no respect for the law.
If the men are not arrested and punished, it will affect the
feeling of women who work at night, she said, and will encourage other similar
Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naroth said last week the city
was meeting with guesthouse owners to make sure they register their guests
before renting them a room, or face a fine or closure.
Guesthouses have become a favorite place for petty criminals
to do drugs, commit crimes, and rape women, he said.