So I was reading an article in the South Korean newspaper on the final leg of my journey to Cambodia. It began with the sentance “Cuando desperto, el dinosaurio todavia, estaba alli”. Somehow it just a little unnerving to read a Spanish sentance in an English version of a Korean newspaper! But alas it did catch my attention. The article, written by Hugo Dixon, was all about the economic crisis in Spain and Italy and the steps being taken to support the euro. And while I am not going to blog about the serious economic crisis in Europe and potential ramifications to the global poor I do want to comment on his leading sentance. Translated into English it simply reads … “Upon waking, the dinosaur was still there.”
After breakfast this morning and before my first meeting with the CGI Cambodian team I had an opportunity to quickly read through the English version of yesterday’s edition of the Phnom Penh Post. The article that caught my attention was entitled “Teenager Allegedly Sex Slave”. The article follows the photo …
“Police have pulled a 15-year-old girl and her parents in for questioning over allegations the girl is being kept as a virtual sex slave in her families home in Banteay Meanchey province, where her parents had chained her legs to a bench to prevent her from escaping, police said yesterday. The horrific allegations, which are being investigated by rights group Adhoc, were refuted by the girls parents, who claim their daughter is simply being locked inside the house for her own well-being. Neighbor Khieve Bory told the Post yesterday he had visited the girl’s family last week and saw that she had been restrained in shackles. “The girl told me that her parents forced her to work, to be a beggar and to have sex with foreign men since she was 13 years old.” he said, adding that the girl had allegedly been shackeled by her parents after her eighth attempt to flee and escape their abuse. Her story was reported in a local newspaper that quoted her as saying her parents had forced her to have sex with French and Thai nationals and they has also trafficked her to Thailand’s Sakeo province, where she was kept to work as a prostitute. Soum Chankea, provincial Adhoc coordinator, said yesterday that Adhoc was investigating after receiving information form villagers and seeing photos of the girl. The girl’s father, Nuth Meoun, yesterday denied the acts described by his daughter, but admitted he was keeping her locked inside their house for her own security as she had been sneaking out at night to hang out with friends. “We do not put the leg cuffs on her any more, we just lock her in the house and sleep with her every night,” Meoun told the Post. “She just accused us, but we parents are angels to look after our children, so why would we force our beloved child to be a whore?” he asked angrily before hanging up on the reporter. Um Sophal, Poipet town police chief, said yesterday that his men are investigating the situation, but that he could confirm she was no longer chained up. “We will keep investigating and watching the girl’s family because we are afraid the parents might do something bad to the girl after [police] left.” he said.
Please note that while these parents must be considered innocent until proven guilty there is much in this article to be concerned about. This stuff does happen. It happens to the poor and the powerless every day. Upon waking, I discovered again, that the dinosaur is still here!