Cambodia: Rape, Sexual Violence Charges Excluded From Khmer Rouge Hearings
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 10:15 AM

The Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has excluded rape and sexual violence from crimes charged against leaders of the Khmer Rouge, the military government that controlled Cambodia from April 1975 through January 1979.  Victims and women’s rights activists were discouraged by the ECCC’s decision, arguing that the Khmer Rouge commonly used rape as a weapon and punishment. Duong Savon of Cambodian Defenders Project’s Gender-Based Violence Project stated: “[t]hrough our research we have seen that a lot of rapes were carried out, especially by guards in prisons, and rapes before killings were common.”

In order to provide a forum for victims of sexual violence at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, the Gender-Based Violence Project held its own hearings during Cambodia’s 16 days of action against violence against women. The group also wanted to increase awareness of the current rise in sexual violence in the country. “If we don’t address issues of violence in the past, the violence of the present will continue to happen,” said Savorn.

Trafficking of girls, forced prostitution, and gang rape are becoming more common. For instance, girls are kept home from school because traveling is dangerous, and there is very little protection offered to migrant workers. While rape was recently redefined in the Cambodian legal code, enforcement is lacking. The judicial system in the country is still recovering and allegations of corruption and discrimination are common. According to the Transparency International, Cambodia fell to 164th out of 182 countries in the most recent report, dropping 10 places.

Compiled from: Hindstrom, Hanna, Cambodia’s Future Rests on Punishing Past Sexual Crimes, Argues Campaigners, The Guardian (16 December 2011).